NEWS   TUESDAY, MAY  23, 2017   NEWS

Flynn Invokes Fifth Amendment, Rebuffs Senate Panel A Subpoena
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Monday invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, rebuffing a subpoena for documents from a Senate panel probing Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. Flynn's attorneys said the "escalating public frenzy against him" and the Justice Department's recent appointment of a special counsel have created a legal minefield for him. "The context in which the committee has called for General Flynn's testimonial production of documents makes clear that he has more than a reasonable apprehension that any testimony he provides could be used against him," the attorneys wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press. Fox
VOA VIEW: Makes a lot of sense.

China Boasts After News Report It Executed CIA Informants
China reacted to the revelation it had purged a network of CIA informants with a victory lap, boasting that the execution of a dozen spies within the last seven years was a triumph for its “anti-espionage activities.” The network was terminated between 2010 and 2012, The New York Times reported Saturday, with 12 or more people killed and several more imprisoned. Without providing confirmation, the Global Times newspaper, which is published by the official People’s Daily, said in an editorial smashing the ring with extreme prejudice was a “sweeping victory.” “If this article is telling the truth, we would like to applaud China’s anti-espionage activities,” read the editorial. “Not only was the CIA’s spy network dismantled, but Washington had no idea what happened and which part of the spy network had gone wrong. Fox News

How Donald Trump Is Benefiting From 'Donald Trump Fatigue'
Seven days ago, The Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump had disclosed classified information to two top Russian officials in a meeting in Oval Office. A partial list: Trump's Tuesday morning tweets, the James Comey memo, asking Jeff Sessions and Mike Pence to leave the room, the appointment of Robert Mueller as special prosecutor, the "witch hunt" tweet, the Coast Guard commencement speech, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein telling senators he knew Trump was going to fire Comey, "No, No next question," Trump brags to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he fired Comney -- who he described as a "nut job" -- and -- big, deep breath -- White House lawyers preparing for impeachment proceedings. CNN
VOA VIEW: CNN can push and state what they want - the truth can be different.

Trump's Budget To Include Paid Family Leave, But May Face Trouble In Congress
President Donald Trump's 2018 budget will push for the creation of a federal paid family leave program that will provide families after the birth or adoption of a child with six weeks of paid leave, a Trump administration official tells CNN. Ivanka Trump, the President's daughter and top aide, was the force behind the new proposal, the official said. The Trump administration, with Trump overseas for his first foreign trip as president, will officially roll out their 2018 budget on Tuesday. The paid family leave program will likely face stiff opposition on Capitol Hill, where Republicans have vociferously opposed any such program. CNN
VOA VIEW: Ivanka and Trump should be voted down, on family leave.


Tillerson: Trump Was Telling Russians, ‘I'm Not Going To Be Distracted’ By Domestic Issues
President Trump, in his Oval Office meeting with the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador, reportedly told them, “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I face great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” Chris Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday,” asked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday if Trump was telling the Russians that he fired Comey to relieve himself of both legal and political pressure: Chris, that's not my -- my interpretation, certainly, of the conversation. And I think what the president was trying to convey to the Russians is, look, I'm not going to be distracted by this -- all these issues that are here at home, they -- that, you know, affect us domestically. CNS
VOA VIEW: No proof Trump said what was reported -  maybe more fake news.

1% Of Americans Say American Moral Values Are Excellent
Only 1 percent of Americans say that America’s moral values are excellent and 77 percent say they are getting worse, according to a Gallup poll released today. Gallup interviewed 1,011 U.S. residents aged 18 or older on May 3-7 and asked them two questions about the moral state of the nation. The first question: “How would you rate the overall state of moral values in this country today—as excellent, good, only fair, or poor.” The second: “Right now, do you think the state of moral values in the country is getting better or getting worse?” Only 1 percent rated the moral values of this country as excellent, according to the survey. Another 16 percent rated them good, while 36 percent rated them only fair, and 45 percent rated them poor. Another 1 percent had no opinion. By contrast, 77 percent said they think the moral values of the United States are getting worse. Sixteen percent said they were getting better and 4 percent said they were the same. Another 2 percent said they had no opinion. CNS News
VOA VIEW: American moral values are questionable.

Trump Budget Poised To Slash Healthcare For Poor, Other Programs
The White House is set to release President Donald Trump's first full budget on Tuesday, a plan that will include a cut of more than $800 billion from the Medicaid program for the poor and reductions in other social spending. The Medicaid cuts were part of a Republican healthcare bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in early May, which aims to gut the Obama administration's 2010 law that expanded insurance coverage and the government-run Medicaid program. But the bill - and its politically sensitive cuts - faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate. Trump's initial budget outline for discretionary spending received a tepid response from Congress, which controls the purse strings, and, ultimately, government spending. He said in March he wanted to boost defense spending and slash foreign aid. Reuters
VOA VIEW: Great!

Trump Administration Wants Obamacare Subsidy Case Put On Hold, Again
The Trump administration on Monday asked that a major federal court case weighing the fate of the Obamacare cost-sharing subsidies be put on hold again, leaving billions of dollars in payments to insurers up in the air for 2017 and 2018. In a joint filing with the U.S. House of Representatives submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the administration and Republican lawmakers asked for a second 90-day extension. The subsidies are available to low-income Americans who buy individual health insurance on the exchanges created under Obamacare, former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.
President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers want to repeal and replace the law and are working on legislation to overhaul it that would also secure the subsidy funding during a transition period, but it is not clear if or when they will pass it. Reuters


Trump Becomes First Sitting U.S. President To Visit Western Wall
President Donald Trump placed a note in the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Monday, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit one of Judaism's holiest sites. Trump later called it a "great honor" to visit the wall, saying, "I can see a much deeper path, friendship with Israel." The historic visit is part of Trump's efforts to highlight "the need for unity among three of the world's great religions" on his first foreign trip, senior administration officials said. Trump's stop at the Western Wall came between Sunday's trip to Saudi Arabia, where he called on Muslim leaders to "drive out the terrorists and extremists" from their lands and his forthcoming visit with Pope Francis at the Vatican. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: It's long past time.

O.J. Simpson To Receive Parole Hearing In July, Could Be Released
After nearly a decade behind bars, O.J. Simpson could be released from prison this year. Simpson is set to face a parole hearing this July, according to the Nevada Department of Corrections. His actual hearing date won't be set until mid-June. The former NFL star has been serving 33 years in a Nevada prison on burglary and kidnapping charges unrelated to the so-called "trial of the century" that transfixed America following the murder of Simpson's ex-wife and her friend in 1994. Simpson was sentenced in 2008 for the burglary, thirteen years to the day that he was famously acquitted of the California murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. The case has remained open and Simpson cannot be retried for the murders. Simpson was found liable for the killings in a 1997 civil case. MSNBC

Democrats Launch Preemptive Strike On Trump Budget
Democrats got an early start Monday slamming President Trump’s upcoming budget for expected cuts to social welfare programs, saying it breaks his campaign promises to help working-class Americans. The budget, which is due out Tuesday, is expected to make good on Mr. Trump’s promises to boost Pentagon spending, slash non-defense spending and rein in the federal government. It also will seek to roll back some of the social welfare programs expanded during the Great Recession, shifting responsibility for many programs back to the states. That’s a non-starter for Democrats. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Democrats are against anything Trump does or says.

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Staggering Number Of Visa Overstays Now Biggest Problem In Illegal Immigration
A staggering 739,450 people overstayed their visas to become illegal immigrants in 2016, according to a new report released Monday by Homeland Security that suggests the immigration problem has shifted away from people sneaking in, and toward people who came legally but refused to leave when they were supposed to.
“This report shows that we have a problem with visa overstays in the United States,” a senior administration official said in briefing reporters on the new numbers, vowing to step up enforcement to try to cut down on the violations. The Trump administration’s report stands in contract to the Obama administration, which played down the numbers last year when officials released a similar report, focusing on the vast majority of travelers who did comply and leave when they were supposed to. CBS
VOA VIEW: One is too many.

White House Attempts To Block Office Of Government Ethics Request
The White House has positioned itself to block the disclosure of ethics waivers granted to dozens of former lobbyists now working in the White House and other federal agencies, The New York Times reported on Monday. The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) needs the waivers in order to determine whether these individuals are violating federal ethics rules in their new positions as government officials. The Trump administration sent a letter challenging the legal authority of Head of the OGE Walter M. Shaub Jr. -- an Obama appointee who is in his fifth and final year of the job -- to request copies of these ethics waivers from federal agencies, which he did in late April. CBS
VOA VIEW: Obama personal is the culprit.

Supreme Court Strikes Down 2 NC Congressional Districts
The Supreme Court struck down two congressional districts in North Carolina Monday because race played too large a role in their creation, a decision voting rights advocates said would boost challenges in other states. The justices ruled that Republicans who controlled the state legislature and governor's office in 2011 placed too many African-Americans in the two districts. The result was to weaken African-American voting strength elsewhere in North Carolina. In recent years, the Supreme Court has ruled for civil rights groups and black voters in challenges to political districts in Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia. ABC

Saudi Arabia And UAE Pledge $100M To Women's Fund Ivanka Trump Supports
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged to give a total of $100 million to the Women's Empowerment Fund, which Ivanka Trump has publicly supported. The announcement came at an event that Trump attended while visiting Saudi Arabia as part of the first foreign trip of her father's presidency. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was the one to announce the donation, saying that the two countries had pledged a combined $100 million donation to the World Bank-based fund. ABC


China Spins A Global Food Web From Mozambique To Missouri
Inside a gated compound patrolled by armed guards, hulking towers and concrete buildings loom over fields where Silva Muthemba once grew maize and fattened his cattle. The granaries and surveillance cameras in this corner of southern Mozambique were part of a wave of Chinese investment in overseas farms and agriculture companies a decade ago that sparked accusations of a land-grab as the Asian country tried to secure enough food for its future. The Mozambique government teamed up with China’s Hubei province to develop the area, hoping to return productivity to levels recorded before the African nation's 16-year civil war. In stepped Hubei-based Wanbao Grains & Oils Co., which spent $250 million on irrigation, machinery and preparation of the 20,000-hectare (49,000-acre) site to grow rice and corn. Bloomberg

U.S. Supreme Court Puts New Curbs On Locations Of Patent Suits
The U.S. Supreme Court put sharp new limits on where patent-infringement lawsuits can be filed, undercutting patent owners’ ability to channel cases to favorable courts. The justices on Monday unanimously ruled in favor of TC Heartland LLC, an Indiana-based maker of water flavorings that said a Kraft Heinz Co. unit shouldn’t be allowed to sue it in Delaware. The high court said patent suits should be filed in the state where the defendant is incorporated. The ruling will bar many patent owners from pressing cases in the Eastern District of Texas, a patent-friendly jurisdiction where more than one-third of all infringement suits are now filed. "It’s going to send cases back to their natural home, and for most cases that is not the Eastern District of Texas,” said Sarah Guske, a patent lawyer with Baker Botts in San Francisco. “It does change the dynamics.” Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Forum shopping should be illegal.

Man Dies In California Botulism Outbreak From Nacho-Cheese
California authorities say one man is dead in an apparent botulism outbreak stemming from nacho-cheese dip sold at a gas station. Health officials on Monday confirmed one death among what the state says is 10 people sickened by the cheese dip. Authorities did not identify the dead man. California health officials say the illnesses appear caused by botulism carried in nacho-cheese dip sold at a gas station in the Sacramento suburb of Walnut Grove. Authorities said Friday all 10 people sickened were hospitalized. A spokesman with the California Department of Public Health says the agency is unable to immediately provide updates on their conditions. Las Vegas Sun

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Trump Admin To Extend Protections For Haitians 6 Months
The Trump administration is extending humanitarian protections for Haitian immigrants living in the United States until at least January. The Temporary Protected Status for 50,000 Haitians was set to expire in July. A U.S. government official says the Trump administration has agreed to extend it by at least six months. The status protects the Haitians from deportation. It was implemented after a 2010 earthquake devastated parts of Haiti. The official was briefed on the decision but not authorized to publicly disclose details in advance of an announcement. Haitian-Americans, lawmakers and the Haitian government have urged the Trump administration to leave the protections in place. They say the country is still not ready to take back immigrants who have been living abroad. Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: A Trump mistake.

Bitcoin Value Soars To New Record Over $2,200
The value of the online currency bitcoin has soared to record heights this year under the new U.S. administration. Bitcoin prices rose above $2,000 over the weekend and went even higher Monday. "Bitcoin has gone insane in the insane world it was made for," analyst Ross Gerber said Monday. "Global leadership chaos pushes price to $2183." In 2017 so far, the value of bitcoin has increased 125 percent. In January, it topped the $1,000 mark and by midday Monday its value was $2,251. Analysts noted that the online currency also has been resistant to market volatility. In recent weeks as the major domestic markets fluctuated with political shifts, bitcoin has remained steady. UPI

Lockheed Martin Secures $28 Billion In Saudi Contracts
Lockheed Martin has secured a major contract with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The $28 billion program includes air and missile defense systems, aircraft, helicopters, and logistical support. "At Lockheed Martin, we are proud to be part of this historic announcement that will strengthen the relationship between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," Marillyn Hewson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin, said in a press release. "We are especially proud of how our broad portfolio of advanced global security products and technologies will enhance national security in Saudi Arabia, strengthen the cause of peace in the region, and provide the foundation for job creation and economic prosperity in the U.S. and in the Kingdom. These agreements will directly to His Majesty's Vision 2030 by opening the door f in the U.S.or thousands of highly skilled jobs in new economic sectors." UPI

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Melania Trump wore a long evening gown that reached to just above the ankles, with the hemline finishing with a gentle lace flounce. The fashions worn by the wives of presidents of the United States have long attracted attention – even before the era of Jackie Kennedy, whose taste in clothes influenced more than a generation of American women Whereas Mrs. Kennedy was a walking advertisement for pure classics, Michele Obama was somewhat bolder in her choice of style and color, but was careful to steer clear of frippery. And now we have Melania Trump, a statuesque former model with impeccable taste and a figure on which even a potato sack would look sophisticated. Jerusalem Post

Trump Tells Israel Iran Will Never Have Nuclear Weapons
US President Donald Trump has told Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that Iran will never have nuclear weapons. He suggested the Iranians thought they could "do what they want" since negotiating a nuclear deal with world powers in 2015. Mr Trump arrived in Israel from Saudi Arabia, where he sought to win Arab states' support for fighting extremism. He has called for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. However, he has been vague about what form it should take, saying he prefers to leave it to both sides to decide between them in direct talks. The two-day visit to Israel forms part of Mr Trump's first foreign trip as US president. BBC

Rouhani Dismisses Trump Warning Over Iran 'Threat'
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned his US counterpart, Donald Trump, that regional stability cannot be achieved without Tehran's help. Mr Trump began a trip to Israel on Monday by saying that it shared a "common cause" with its Arab neighbours in "the threat posed by Iran". He also demanded that Iran cease its support of "terrorists and militias". Mr Rouhani dismissed the criticism and said it was actually Iran and its allies that were fighting terrorists. Iran and the US back opposing sides in the civil wars in Syria and Yemen, but they are both fighting the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq. BBC

Mississippi Lawmaker Calls For Lynchings After Removal Of Confederate Symbols
A Republican state lawmaker in Mississippi, the last remaining state in the US to carry the Confederate battle emblem within its official flag, has posted an incendiary threat on social media calling for those removing Confederate monuments from public display to be lynched. Karl Oliver, a funeral director from Winona Mississippi who represents the 46th district of the state, made his explosive remarks on Facebook. He began by lambasting the recent events in New Orleans, in neighboring Louisiana, which saw the last of its Confederate monuments – a statue of the south’s civil war commander Gen Robert E Lee – taken away on Friday in a move by local officials to end the visible celebration of white supremacy. Guardian

White House Proposes Slashing Funds To Clean Up Toxic Sites Despite EPA's Pleas
Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt’s vow to shift the agency back towards the “vital” work of dealing with toxic sites that pollute air and water has been dashed by a White House budget plan that would slash funding for the clean-ups. Donald Trump’s 2018 budget plan proposes severe cuts to clean-up programs targeting some of the most toxic sites in the US, which are invariably situated near low-income communities and minorities, despite a push by the EPA to prioritize these hazardous areas. This month, Pruitt issued a directive that instructed the agency to quicken its response to polluted areas known as Superfund sites, where industrial activity or toxic accidents have tainted the air, water or soils. Guardian

K-Pop Stars Look To Entertain The US After Being Barred From China Over Arms Row
South Korean pop stars hope to take the United States by storm after being shut out of the lucrative Chinese market over an arms row. Since last year, entertainers from the colourful Korean music scene, K-pop, have been mysteriously barred from performing in China in a barely disguised effort by Beijing to pressure Seoul not to deploy America’s THAAD missile defence system. Media reports in September 2016 quoted Chaebul, South Korea’s leading stock website, as saying the dispute had caused over $140m of damage to the leaders of South Korea’s top-tier entertainment companies so far. Telegraph

Salad Lovers Hit By Record High Extra Virgin Olive Oil Price
Extra olive oil prices have hit record levels and are at their highest point for nearly a decade, as droughts in the Mediterranean have decimated production. It comes just as many Brits will be looking forward to eating salads drizzled with olive oil as the Bank holiday approaches and the sun is shining. The cost of a 1 litre bottle has risen to £5.16, rising by 6pc over the past 6 months alone, from £4.86 in December 16. This compares to £4.41 in April 2009, according to Kantar Worldpanel data. Telegraph

Security Council Strongly Condemns Ballistic Missile Test By DPR Korea
Strongly condemning yesterday’s ballistic missile launch conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United Nations Security Council vowed to “fully and comprehensively implement all measures” imposed on the country and strongly urged all other UN Member States to do the same. In a press statement, Council members expressed their utmost concern over the DPRK’s “highly destabilising behaviour and flagrant and provocative defiance” of the Council by conducting this ballistic missile launch in violation of its international obligations under the body’s relevant resolutions, dating from 2006. UN New

On Day For Biological Diversity, UN Says Tourists Must Protect Nature That Draws Them
Tourism must not undermine the nature that attracts tourists in the first place, said the head of the United Nations-backed treaty on biological diversity, marking International Day for Biological Diversity. “Tourism grows, so does the risk of harming the environment […] It will be important therefore such developments do not undermine the very natural beauty that draws tourists in the first place,” said Cristiana Pasca Palmer, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in her message for the Day, which this year is celebrated under the theme Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism. UN News

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