Republicans in Maine, Utah want Trump to undo monuments

FOX

Controversies

Published March 06, 2017
In this Aug. 4, 2015, file photo, the Wassataquoik Stream flows through Township 3, Range 8, Maine, on land owned by environmentalist Roxanne Quimby, the founder of Burts Bees.

In this Aug. 4, 2015, file photo, the Wassataquoik Stream flows through Township 3, Range 8, Maine, on land owned by environmentalist Roxanne Quimby, the founder of Burts Bees.  (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

PORTLAND, Maine –  Republican leaders in Maine and Utah are asking President Donald Trump to step into uncharted territory and rescind national monument designations made by his predecessor.

The Antiquities Act of 1906 doesn’t give the president power to undo a designation, and no president has ever taken such a step. But Trump isn’t like other presidents.

Former President Barack Obama used his power under the act to permanently preserve more land and water using national monument designations than any other president. The land is generally off limits to timber harvesting, mining and pipelines, and commercial development.

Obama created the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine last summer on 87,500 acres of donated forestland. The expanse includes part of the Penobscot River and stunning views of Mount Katahdin, Maine’s tallest mountain. In Utah, the former president created Bears Ears National Monument on 1.3 million acres of land that’s sacred to Native Americans and is home to tens of thousands of archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings.

Trump’s staff is now reviewing those decisions by the Obama administration to determine economic impacts, whether the law was followed and whether there was appropriate consultation with local officials, the White House told The Associated Press.

Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage is opposed to the designation, and says federal ownership could stymie industrial development; and Republican leaders in Utah contend the monument designation adds another layer of unnecessary federal control in a state where there’s already heavy federal ownership.

The Utah Legislature approved a resolution signed by the governor calling on Trump to rescind the monument there. In Maine, LePage asked the president last week to intervene.

Newly sworn-in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has said he’ll fight the sale or transfer of public lands. But he also believes states should be able to weigh in. The National Parks Conservation Association has vowed to sue if Trump, the Interior Department or Congress tries to remove the special designations.

“Wherever the attack comes from, we’re ready to fight, and we know the public is ready to fight if someone comes after our national parks and monuments,” National Parks Conversation Association spokeswoman Kristen Brengel said.

In Maine, the prospect of undoing the designation is further complicated by deed stipulations requiring the National Park Service to control the land and a $40 million endowment to support the monument, said Lucas St. Clair, son of Burt’s Bees co-founder Roxanne Quimby, who acquired the land.

Three of the four members of Maine’s congressional delegation want the monument to stand to avoid reopening a divisive debate in towns surrounding the property.

“Rather than re-ignite controversy in a region that is beginning to heal and move on, I hope we can allow the monument to continue to serve as one important part of a multifaceted economic revitalization strategy which is already underway,” said independent Sen. Angus King.

Utah Republicans, however, appear to be ready for a scrap. Rep. Jason Chaffetz raised the issue when he met with Trump and he asked the House Appropriations Committee to cut funding for the monument.

“Not one elected official in Utah that represents the Bear Ears region supports the designation of a national monument. With the stroke of a pen, President Obama, having never visited the area, created a monument the size of Delaware, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C., combined,” he said.

In the region near Maine’s Mount Katahdin, both supporters and many opponents want to see the monument work. They hope it will help revitalize the economy.

Millinocket Town Council Chairman Michael Madore once described the park as a “foolish dream.” Now, he says, “We have accepted it as part of our landscape. Until such time as it’s overturned, we’re going to work with the people who’re involved with it to help the local economy.”

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North Korea fires four ballistic missiles into sea, angering Japan and South

OANN

March 6, 2017

By Ju-min Park and Kaori Kaneko

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan’s northwest on Monday, angering South Korea and Japan, days after it promised retaliation over U.S.-South Korea military drills it sees as a preparation for war.

South Korea’s military said the missiles were unlikely to have been intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), which can reach the United States. The missiles flew on average 1,000 km (620 miles) and reached a height of 260 km (160 miles).

Some of the missiles landed in waters as close as 300 km (190 miles) from Japan’s northwest coast, Japan’s Defence Minister Tomomi Inada said in Tokyo.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said “strong protests” had been lodged with nuclear-armed North Korea, which has carried out a series of nuclear and missile tests in defiance of U.N. resolutions.

“The launches are clearly in violation of Security Council resolutions. It is an extremely dangerous action,” Abe told parliament.

South Korea’s acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn condemned the launches as a direct challenge to the international community and said Seoul would swiftly deploy a U.S. anti-missile defense system despite angry objections from China.

The missiles were launched from the Tongchang-ri region near the reclusive North’s border with China, South Korean military spokesman Roh Jae-cheon told a briefing. It was too early to say what the relatively low altitude indicated about the types of missiles, he said.

Joshua Pollack, editor of the U.S.-based Non-Proliferation Review, said it did not appear the North had launched an ICBM.

“It sounds like a field exercise involving deployed missiles, probably ones we’ve seen before,” Pollack said.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, also told Reuters there were no indications so far that North Korea had tested an ICBM.

The U.S. military said it detected and tracked what it assessed was a North Korean missile launch, but it did not pose a threat to North America.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily news briefing that China, which is holding its annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, had noted North Korea’s latest action.

“All sides should exercise restraint and not do anything to irritate each other to worsen regional tensions,” Geng said, referring to both the missile launch and U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

JOINT DRILLS

North Korea had threatened to take “strong retaliatory measures” after South Korea and the United States began annual joint military drills on Wednesday that test their defensive readiness against possible aggression from the North.

North Korea criticizes the annual drills and has previously conducted missile launches to coincide with the exercises.

Last year, North Korea fired a long-range rocket from Tongchang-ri that put an object into orbit. That launch was condemned by the United Nations for violating resolutions that ban the use of ballistic missile technology.

North Korea test-fired a new type of missile into the sea early last month, and has said it would continue to launch new strategic weapons.

Last month’s test was the first since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has vowed to rein in North Korea and its young leader, Kim Jong Un.

Trump’s national security deputies have reviewed in recent meetings a range of options to counter the North’s missile threat, the New York Times reported. Options include direct missile strikes on the North’s launch sites and the possibility of reintroducing nuclear weapons to the South, the Times said.

Those options would soon be presented to Trump and his top national security aides, the report said, quoting U.S. administration officials.

The United States withdrew nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991 before the rival Koreas signed a declaration on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. North Korea has since walked away from the agreement, citing the threat of invasion by the United States.

“The claim that we should redeploy nuclear weapons here, 20 years after they were withdrawn, is total nonsense,” said Woo Sang-ho, floor leader of South Korea’s main opposition Democratic Party.

“I am formally asking the United States not to bring this issue up for consideration,” Woo said in a party meeting.

North Korea conducted its fifth and most powerful nuclear test last September, following what the United States said was an “unprecedented” level of activity in its banned nuclear and missile programs.

State media said after that test Pyongyang had used a nuclear warhead small enough to mount on a ballistic missile.

The United States has about 28,500 troops and equipment stationed in the South, and plans to roll out the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile defense system by the end of the year.

Japan also plans to reinforce its ballistic missile defenses and is considering buying either THAAD or building a ground-based version of the Aegis system that is currently deployed on ships in the Sea of Japan.

(Additional reporting by Christine Kim and James Pearson in SEOUL, Tim Kelly in TOKYO, Ben Blanchard in BEIJING and Phil Stewart in WASHINGTON; Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Paul Tait)

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In day of pro-Trump rallies, California march turns violent

OANN

March 6, 2017

By Stephen Lam and Tim Branfalt

BERKELEY, Calif./LANSING, Mich. (Reuters) – Supporters of Donald Trump clashed with counter-protesters at a rally in the famously left-leaning city of Berkeley, California, on a day of mostly peaceful gatherings in support of the U.S. president across the country.

At a park in Berkeley, across the bay from San Francisco, protesters from both sides struck one another over the head with wooden sticks and Trump supporters fired pepper spray as police in riot gear stood at a distance.

Some in the pro-Trump crowd, holding American flags, faced off against black-clad opponents. An elderly Trump supporter was struck in the head and kicked on the ground.

Organizers of the so-called Spirit of America rallies in at least 28 the country’s 50 states had said they expected smaller turn-outs than the huge crowds of anti-Trump protesters that clogged the streets of Washington and other cities the day after the Republican’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

“There are a lot of angry groups protesting and we thought it was important to show our support,” said Peter Boykin, president of Gays for Trump, who helped organize Saturday’s rally in Washington.

In many towns and cities, the rallies did not draw more than a few hundred people. At some, supporters of the president were at risk of being outnumbered by small groups of anti-Trump protesters who gathered to shout against the rallies.

In Berkeley, the total crowd of both supporters and detractors numbered 200 to 300 people, police spokesman Byron White said. Three people were injured in the clash, including one who had teeth knocked out, and police made five arrests.

One Trump supporter who took part in the violence came equipped with a baton, a gas mask and a shield emblazoned with the American flag.

White said police did break up fights between the two sides.

“We’ve made a number of arrests, it’s one of those things where we monitor the situation and take action as necessary,” he said.

The violence comes a month after mask-wearing protesters at the University of California, Berkeley, shut down a planned speech by a provocative far-right commentator by lighting fires and smashing windows.

On Saturday, smaller skirmishes broke out in other parts of the country.

In Minnesota, 400 Trump supporters packed the state capitol rotunda in St. Paul and were met by a smaller group of counter-demonstrators, according to the Star Tribune. Scuffles erupted and six counter-protesters were arrested, the newspaper reported.

In Nashville, Tennessee, Trump supporters and counter-protesters cursed at each other and occasionally made physical contact, but state troopers broke up the fighting, according to the city’s public radio station.

Most rallies appeared to take place without any disruption or violence, like one outside the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing.

“How can anyone be disappointed with bringing back jobs? And he promised he would secure our borders, and that’s exactly what he’s doing,” said Meshawn Maddock, one of the organizers of the rally which drew about 200 people.

Brandon Blanchard, 24, among a small group of anti-Trump protesters, said he had come in support of immigrants, Muslims and transgender people, groups that have been negatively targeted by Trump’s rhetoric and policies.

“I feel that every American that voted for Trump has been deceived,” Blanchard said.

More than 200 supporters of the president rallied in downtown San Diego.

“After this, I think people will take the hint,” said former U.S. Marine David Moore, 42, a participant in the rally. “It’s okay to voice support for the president and the country.”

In Palm Beach, Florida, where Trump is staying this weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort, the president’s motorcade stopped and Trump stepped outside his car to wave at a crowd of dozens of supporters. A smaller group of protesters stood across the street.

In New York, about 200 people demonstrated their support for the president in front of Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan. In Washington, about 150 people marched from the Washington Monument to Lafayette Square in front of the White House to show their support for the president.

(Additional reporting by Ned Randolph in San Diego, Melissa Fares in Palm Beach, Florida, and Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing and additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Dan Grebler and Mary Milliken)

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The Daily 202: Wiretapping allegations accomplished what Trump wanted – but may backfire bigly - Washington Post

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Trump a new test for German-Israeli ‘special relationship’

OANN

March 6, 2017

By Noah Barkin

BERLIN (Reuters) – In 2008, the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel, Angela Merkel delivered a speech in the Knesset in which she described relations between Germany and Israel as “excellent”.

“Yes, our relations are special, indeed unique, marked by enduring responsibility for the past, shared values, mutual trust, abiding solidarity for one another and shared confidence,” the German chancellor told members of the Israeli parliament, many of whom rose to their feet to applaud.

Nine years on, it seems unlikely that Merkel would depict ties in the same glowing light. Political relations between Germany and Israel have sunk to their lowest point in several years, German officials say.

And there is concern in Berlin that ties could become even more strained with Donald Trump as U.S. president. He has expressed ambivalence about the creation of a Palestinian state – a central aim of German policy in the Middle East – and offered only the mildest of criticism of Israeli settlements.

Israeli officials also quietly acknowledge that relations are at a low point although they say the links between the two countries are still strong.

The extent of the strains between Germany and Israel was underscored last month when Merkel canceled a summit with Netanyahu that was due to take place in Jerusalem in May.

The official explanation was that Berlin was too busy with its G20 presidency. But German officials said privately that the main reason was anger over Netanyahu’s plans, unveiled in the weeks after Trump took office, to accelerate settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and to legalize thousands of homes built on privately-held Palestinian land.

“Netanyahu does not listen to us and the situation may only get worse with Trump,” said one senior German official, who acknowledged that relations with Israel’s right-wing government had been “completely pared back”.

In Israel, an official described the cancellation of the summit as a sign of “deep, deep displeasure” with Netanyahu, but argued that Berlin’s main gripe was with Trump.

“Germany is really angry with Trump, but they can’t afford to express it or take him on directly because he’s too strong,” the official said.

Kerstin Mueller, who runs the Tel Aviv office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation, a left-leaning German think tank, said recent developments may force Berlin to reexamine its relationship with Israel – a country towards which it feels a deep attachment and obligation because of the Holocaust.

“The sense of responsibility is still there but I don’t know how long it will hold,” Mueller said. “The special relationship between Germany and Israel is not set in stone. In fact it looks right now like it may be in danger.”

GROWING GAP

In an interview Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, Israel’s ambassador to Germany, pointed to the strong ties between civil society in Germany and Israel, a surge in the number of young Israelis who visit the trendy German capital, and a steady back-and-forth of lawmakers and ministers between Berlin and Jerusalem.

Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas was in Israel last month, Bundestag President Norbert Lammert is visiting this month and Germany’s new Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel is considering a trip before Easter.

But Hadas-Handelsman acknowledged a growing gap between the Israel-friendly stance that has guided German governments for decades and an increasingly skeptical population, particularly among younger Germans who do not feel a sense of responsibility for the Holocaust.

A 2015 Bertelsmann Foundation study on the relationship showed that 77 percent of Germans believed it was time to “leave the past behind”. Some 66 percent expressed anger that Germans were still blamed for crimes against Jews. Among respondents between the ages 18 and 29, 79 percent felt this way.

“The more time that passes, the more difficult it will be to maintain the unique relationship even if there are no political disagreements,” Hadas-Handelsman told Reuters.

Ties between the countries run deep.

Germany is a major sponsor of scientific research in Israel. It supplies the Israeli navy with submarines, financing a substantial portion of the costs itself.

And economic relations are strong. Bilateral trade in goods and services totaled $5.5 billion last year, small compared to the $25.6 billion between Israel and the United States, but second only to Britain among European Union countries.

There are no signs that the German government is considering ratcheting back these areas of cooperation.

DELICATE MOMENT

But a German diplomat said it was becoming ever more difficult to sell the close relationship with Israel to the German public.

“Getting the balance right with Israel is increasingly difficult. If you don’t criticize you get lambasted in the media. If you do criticize you are alienating a core partner,” the diplomat said.

In a German election year, he said, Merkel had nothing to gain from an awkward meeting with Netanyahu.

Political tensions are not a new phenomenon. Back in 2011, Germany reportedly threatened to stop delivery of Dolphin submarines in response to Israeli settlement plans. A year later, Gabriel, then head of the opposition Social Democrats, caused a storm by likening Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank to “apartheid”.

The most senior members of the German government began paring back their visits to Israel some years ago. Merkel has visited only twice since her 2008 speech to the Knesset. Her last trip to Israel was in early 2014.

But German officials and analysts say the current political divide appears to be deeper than it has been at any time in recent memory.

    “Israel knew with previous U.S. governments that it could only go so far. Now with Trump, the more radical elements in Israel feel emboldened,” said Mueller of the Heinrich Boell Foundation. “We are at a very delicate moment. It is important how Germany reacts to this new reality. The relationship could change very quickly.”

(Additional reporting by Andreas Rinke and Luke Baker; editing by Anna Willard)

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Rugby-Guinness PRO12 Fixture

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March 6 (Gracenote) - Fixture from the Guinness PRO12 match between Ulster and Zebre on Saturday SATURDAY, MARCH 11 FIXTURES (GMT) Ulster v Zebre (1805)
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Rugby-Six Nations Championship Fixtures

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March 6 (Gracenote) - Fixtures from the Six Nations Championship matches FRIDAY, MARCH 10 FIXTURES (GMT) Wales v Ireland (2005) SATURDAY, MARCH 11 FIXTURES (GMT) Italy v France (1330) England v Scotland (1600)
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Supreme Court sends Virginia transgender case back to lower court - Washington Post

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Rugby-Super Rugby Fixtures

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March 6 (Gracenote) - Fixtures from the Super Rugby matches FRIDAY, MARCH 10 FIXTURES (GMT) Chiefs v Hurricanes (0635) Brumbies v Western Force (0845) SATURDAY, MARCH 11 FIXTURES (GMT) Blues v Highlanders (0635) Reds v Crusaders (0845) Southern Kings v Stormers (1305) Cheetahs v Sunwolves (1515) Sharks v Waratahs (1730) Jaguares v Lions (1940)
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U.S. top court sidesteps ruling in major transgender rights case

OANN

March 6, 2017

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court avoided a ruling on transgender rights by sending a closely watched case involving bathroom access at a Virginia high school back to a lower court on Monday after President Donald Trump rolled back protections for transgender students.

Lawyers for a transgender student named Gavin Grimm, who was born female and identifies as male, had asked the justices to decide the case despite of the Trump administration’s Feb. 22 action. The court previously had set arguments in the case for March 28.

The brief court order said that the case was sent back to the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which last year ruled in favor of Grimm, “for further consideration in light of the guidance document” issued by the Trump administration.

Grimm sued the Gloucester County School Board to win the right to use the public school’s boys’ bathroom, saying the school’s refusal violated federal anti-discrimination law and the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

The 4th Circuit in April 2016 sided with Grimm based on the Obama administration’s interpretation of the anti-discrimination law. It now gets a second chance to rule on the dispute, with its earlier decision wiped off the books.

The Trump administration rescinded landmark protections for transgender students ordered by former President Barack Obama last year that had permitted them to use bathrooms that matched their gender identity.

Obama’s guidance said that transgender students were protected under a federal law barring sex discrimination in education. The Trump administration’s move left the decision to the states.

The law involved in the case is Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which applies to federally funded schools. The question of whether it covers transgender students remains unresolved and is likely to reach the high court at some time.

The case, which the justices in November had agreed to hear, would have been the Supreme Court’s first case on discrimination against transgender people. It was among the most important cases the justices were due to hear during their current term, which ends in June.

The issue of allowing transgender people to use public bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity rather than their birth gender has become the latest flashpoint in the long U.S. battle over lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

The matter heated up after North Carolina passed a Republican-backed law last year that required people to use bathrooms that corresponded to their gender at birth in government buildings and public schools. The North Carolina law also blocked local measures protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination.

The Obama administration in May 2016 issued its nationwide guidance telling public schools that transgender students should be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice, and indicated that states could lose education funding if they did not comply.

That action infuriated many conservatives and prompted a Republican-led legal effort to fight it. A total of 23 states sued to block the guidance. That lawsuit was dropped after Trump rescinded the guidance.

In the Virginia case, the Supreme Court in July 2016 voted 5-3 to temporarily block the appeals court decision from going into effect, a move that prevented Grimm from using the boys’ bathroom when the new school year began in September while the case remained under appeal by the school district.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)

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Barcelona dare to believe mission impossible is possible

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BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona first struggled to come to terms with their shock 4-0 defeat to Paris St Germain in the Champions League last 16 first leg but have sparkled in their last two games and are daring to believe they can defy history by reaching the quarter-finals.
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PSA targets Opel turnaround as GM exits Europe

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Following Sessions' Mar-a-Lago appearance, ne

MSNBC

At some point during the Obama era, conservatives convinced themselves that the Democratic president took an outrageous amount of time off, traveled constantly, and vastly preferred golfing to working. The criticisms were always quite silly – especially after George W. Bush broke every modern record for time off taken by a sitting president – but the right nevertheless embraced the nonsense with great enthusiasm.

Vox recently talked to a series of CPAC attendees, many of whom continued to complain bitterly about Obama’s travel costs and downtime. Told that Donald Trump is actually spending more on travel and enjoying more downtime, conservatives were incredulous. The facts “can’t possibly be right,” one said. “That absolutely can’t be right.”

Reality, however, is stubborn. Trump headlined a political fundraiser on Friday night, before heading to Mar-a-Lago, the for-profit club he still owns, for another relaxing weekend. Over the last five weekends, the president has visited his luxury resort four times – each trip costs American taxpayers about $3 million – and as of last night, Trump had spent 31% of his presidency at Mar-a-Lago.  He’s now played golf eight times since taking office six weeks ago.

In October 2014, Trump whined via Twitter, “We pay for Obama’s travel so he can fundraise millions so Democrats can run on lies. Then we pay for his golf.” A year later, as a presidential candidate, Trump declared that if he were in office, he’d dispense with breaks. “I’d want to stay in the White House and work my ass off,” he told voters.

Like so many of his claims, Trump apparently didn’t mean a word of it. (Last week, the White House even gave the press misleading information about one the president’s golf outings.)

But this latest trip was a little different – because as the Palm Beach Post noted, Trump this time brought along some powerful friends.

President Donald Trump mingled with guests outside a charity ball at his Mar-a-Lago Club on Saturday night. As attendees danced inside the ballroom where the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute held its gala, the president was spotted nearby, shaking hands and talking with club members and guests.

Earlier, Attorney General Jeff Sessions also took a few moments from high-level meetings to greet guests at the estate.

Oh good, we’ve reached the point at which the attorney general of the United States is a prop for members at the president’s for-profit club.

What’s more, Sessions wasn’t alone. Two other members of Trump’s cabinet – Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross – were also on hand in Florida over the weekend.

I appreciate the fact that there are a variety of very serious scandals surrounding this White House, but the conflicts surrounding Trump and Mar-a-Lago are tough to defend. I’m reminded anew of this recent New York Times piece, which noted that Team Trump has created “an arena for potential political influence rarely seen in American history: a kind of Washington steakhouse on steroids, situated in a sunny playground of the rich and powerful, where members and their guests enjoy a level of access that could elude even the best-connected of lobbyists.”

… Mr. Trump’s weekend White House appears to be unprecedented in American history, as it is the first one with customers paying a company owned by the president, several historians said.

“Mar-a-Lago represents a commercialization of the presidency that has few if any precedents in American history,” said Jon Meacham, a presidential historian and Andrew Jackson biographer. “Presidents have always spent time with the affluent,” he added. “But a club where people pay you as president to spend time in his company is new. It is kind of amazing.”

And it’s not just Trump. Those who pay the $200,000 membership fee also, evidently, get access to the U.S. attorney general and other powerful cabinet secretaries, and even get front-row seats to see officials respond in real time to national security challenges, conducted in full view of civilians.

The club’s managing director conceded to the Times that Trump’s presidency “enhances” club membership – which may help explain the increase in entrance fees – adding, “People are now even more interested in becoming members.”

If you voted Republican because you were worried about Hillary Clinton and pay-to-play controversies, I have some very bad news for you. Trump is profiting from the presidency in ways no one has been able to credibly defend.

As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, we’re looking at an ethical nightmare. A president who refuses to divest from his many business ventures still owns a for-profit enterprise, in which undisclosed people pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for exclusive access – and the facility itself openly acknowledges the financial benefits of exploiting Trump’s presidency.

How many lobbyists or agents of foreign governments are signing up to take advantage? We don’t know – because Mar-a-Lago doesn’t disclose its membership list.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent talked recently to Norm Eisen, the chief ethics czar under President Obama, who pointed to Trump’s dramatic use of his for-profit club as a serious problem.

Eisen argued to me … that you cannot divorce this latest story from Trump’s seemingly reflexive or deliberately thought out use of his position as president to promote his business interests or those of his family. After all, Eisen notes, the very act of inviting [Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe to Mar-a-Lago itself must be evaluated as, potentially, an effort to promote his resort, given the pattern of behavior we’ve seen from this White House, which has included repeated efforts by Trump and his aides to punish Nordstrom for declining to carry Ivanka Trump’s clothing line or to drive customers to Ivanka.

“We’ve had a lot of presidents who hosted foreign leaders away from the White House,” Eisen said. “But we’ve never in history had one do it in a place where he’s selling memberships for hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop. Trump just could not resist the opportunity to make an infomercial for his property. He’s worked hard all his life to generate free media. Now he’s hit the mother lode, and he’s not going to stop.”

There’s no reason to go along with this as if it were somehow normal.



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Trump a new test for German-Israeli 'special relationship'

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BERLIN (Reuters) - In 2008, the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel, Angela Merkel delivered a speech in the Knesset in which she described relations between Germany and Israel as "excellent".
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Italy lags on migrant returns as arrival numbers jump

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CARRARA, Italy (Reuters) - Italy is promising to send more migrants who do not qualify for asylum back home, either by force or with their consent, as a fourth year of mass arrivals of migrants by sea began at a record-setting pace.
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SCOTUS rejects appeal in transgender...

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SCOTUS rejects appeal in transgender student case | MSNBC
MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle 03/06/17
The Supreme Court on Monday handed a case involving Gavin Grimm, a transgender teen who sued a school district over bathroom access, back down to a lower court. ... more Duration: {{video.duration.momentjs}}
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Supreme Court scraps case on transgender bathroom rights

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JUDICIARY

Published March 06, 2017

The Supreme Court is handing a transgender teen’s case back to a lower court without reaching a decision.

The justices said Monday they have opted not to decide whether federal anti-discrimination law gives high school senior Gavin Grimm the right to use the boys’ bathroom in his Virginia school.

The case had been scheduled for argument in late March. Instead, a lower court in Virginia will be tasked with evaluating the federal law known as title IX and the extent to which it applies to transgender students.

The high court action follows the Trump administration’s recent decision to withdraw a directive issued during Barack Obama’s presidency that advised schools to allow students to use the bathroom of their chosen gender, not biological birth.

  

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Northern Ireland's McGuinness in hospital for past two weeks - Irish News says

Reuters UK

BELFAST (Reuters) - Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister who stepped down in January because of illness, has spent the last two weeks in hospital due to severe side effects from his treatment, the Irish News reported on Monday.
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Germany to scrap plan to lower prices of new drugs: lawmakers

Reuters Health

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's ruling coalition will scrap plans announced last year to lower prices of newly launched drugs within the first 12 months should sales exceed 250 million euros ($264.83 million), lawmakers told Reuters on Monday.
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North Korea fires four ballistic missiles into sea, angering Japan and South

Reuters Top News

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) - North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan's northwest on Monday, angering South Korea and Japan, days after it promised retaliation over U.S.-South Korea military drills it sees as a preparation for war.
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North Korea fires four ballistic missiles into sea, angering Japan and South

Reuters World

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) - North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan's northwest on Monday, angering South Korea and Japan, days after it promised retaliation over U.S.-South Korea military drills it sees as a preparation for war.
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Sinn Fein insist Foster must go as Northern Ireland talks begin

Reuters Top News

BELFAST (Reuters) - Talks to save Northern Ireland's devolved government ran straight into an obstacle on Monday as Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein repeated its demand that Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster not return as first minister.
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Sinn Fein insist Foster must go as Northern Ireland talks begin

Reuters UK

BELFAST (Reuters) - Talks to save Northern Ireland's devolved government ran straight into an obstacle on Monday as Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein repeated its demand that Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster not return as first minister.
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Zimbabwe to pay bonuses after civil servants sit-in protest

Reuters Africa

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's government on Monday agreed to pay outstanding cash bonuses, bringing an end to a brief sit-in protest by public workers, union leaders and a government minister said.
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Lawmakers call on U.S. Marines to investigate nude photo network

OANN

March 6, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senior U.S. lawmakers on Sunday condemned the suspected distribution of nude photographs of female Marines to military personnel and veterans via a social media network that promotes sexual violence, and called on the Marine Corps to fully investigate.

The Marine Corps Times, an independent newspaper focusing on issues involving the service, published an internal Marine Corps communications document with talking points about the issue, describing the social media network as a closed Facebook group with about 30,000 members. The network solicited nude photos of female service members, some of whom had their name, rank and duty station listed, the newspaper reported.

A Marine Corps spokesman told the newspaper that military officials are uncertain how many military personnel could be involved.

The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, Republican Mac Thornberry of Texas, and the panel’s senior Democrat, Adam Smith of Washington state, separately called for a complete investigation.

“Degrading behavior of this kind is entirely unacceptable,” Thornberry said in a statement. “I expect the Marine Corps to investigate this matter fully with appropriate consequences for those who willingly participated.”

Smith also called for proper care to be provided to the victims, and said that, “This behavior by Marines and former Marines is degrading, dangerous, and completely unacceptable.”

Officials from the Marine Corps Naval Criminal Investigative Service were not immediately available for comment.

The site talked of misogynist behavior, the Marine Corps document said, and the photos were on a secure drive in cloud storage, which has been removed.

The document advised a response along the lines of: “The Marine Corps is deeply concerned about allegations regarding the derogatory online comments and sharing of salacious photographs in a closed website. This behavior destroys morale, erodes trust, and degrades the individual.”

According to an annual report that the Pentagon released in May 2016, the U.S. military received about 6,000 reports of sexual assault in 2015, similar to the number in 2014, but such crimes are still underreported.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Additional reporting by Jonathan Landay in Washington; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Will Dunham)

The post Lawmakers call on U.S. Marines to investigate nude photo network appeared first on One America News Network.




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When Trump has questions, far-right media giv

MSNBC

Fairly early on Saturday morning, Donald Trump started sharing some thoughts. Before hitting the golf course again, the president told the public that he’d “just found out” that former President Obama tapped his phones during the presidential election. “This is Nixon/Watergate,” the Republican said. “Bad (or sick) guy!”

Almost immediately, nearly everyone, including White House officials, began wondering where the president heard this unhinged conspiracy theory. As NBC News and other major news organizations reported, it wasn’t from official sources.

A senior U.S. official in a position to know told NBC News that Trump’s allegations have no merit, and the president did not consult with people within the U.S. government who would know the validity of the charge before making claims on his favored communications platform.
It seems safe to assume Trump “just found out” about this deeply strange conspiracy by reading a report from Breitbart News, a right-wing website that was run by his chief White House strategist, Stephen Bannon.

This is no small realization. Under normal circumstances, after Americans elect a normal president, we’d expect information about surveillance operations to come from law enforcement and intelligence agencies. But Trump, who is anything but normal, didn’t rely on administration officials or intelligence professionals to give him information through formal channels; he apparently started communicating with the American public because a right-wing website triggered some strange thoughts in his head.

Worse, this wasn’t the first time.

Trump recently told the public about terrorist violence in Sweden that didn’t exist, not because of something that appeared in the Daily Presidential Briefing, but because of something he saw on Fox News.

Last week, the president also started pushing a strange line about the national debt because he didn’t rely on members of his team for basic facts.

[Keith Hennessey, who was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as director of the U.S. National Economic Council] wrote that it was “more concerning” that the tweet shows Trump continues to rely on TV rather than his advisers.

“Until his staff figure out a way to ensure he doesn’t make such easily rebutted claims, you should not echo the president’s economic arguments or claims without first verifying both their accuracy and substantive merit,” Hennessey wrote. “This unfortunate situation will persist as long as President Trump continues to take his numbers and policy arguments from TV pundits rather than from Mr. Cohn, Director Mulvaney, and Secretary Mnuchin.”

In this case, Trump saw the bogus argument on Fox News, which got the information from a strange right-wing blog that’s notorious for publishing nonsense.

The public may not appreciate just how quickly a sitting president can have any question answered. Donald Trump can pick up the phone and say, “I’d like some information on security threats in Sweden,” and very soon thereafter, a group of people will appear in front of him, providing him with as many details as he’d like. If he wants to better understand the deficit and/or the debt, he can make a simple request and have a half-dozen economists in his office, ready to give a tutorial.

This applies to practically any topic, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s a perk of the office.

But Trump doesn’t avail himself of this unique access to unlimited information, because he has conservative media outlets filling his mind with strange ideas. It’s a problem that the president relies on nonsense he hears from the far-right, but it’s a bigger problem that it’s often the only thing Trump relies on.




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New owners of Houston home find human remains in attic wall

FOX

Odd News

Published March 06, 2017

HOUSTON –  The new owners of a Houston bungalow have discovered human remains in an attic wall that may belong to the previous owner who went missing at least two years ago.

The residents were moving into the home Saturday when they found a gap in the wall and discovered bones.

Authorities are trying to determine if the remains are those of 61-year-old Mary Cerruti.

A bank foreclosed on her home in 2015 after mortgage payments had stopped. Liens on the property were settled, the house was cleaned out and it was later placed on the market.

Police Detective Jason Fay tells the Houston Chronicle that it’s not clear if the victim was killed and placed in the wall, or may have tripped and fallen into the space.

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Trump to leave Iraq off new travel ban order: White House source

OANN

March 6, 2017

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will remove Iraq from a list of countries targeted in a U.S. travel ban when he is expected to sign a new executive order on Monday after his controversial first attempt was blocked in the courts, a White House source said.

The senior White House official said the new executive order would keep a 90-day ban on travel to the United States by citizens of six Muslim-majority nations – Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Iraq was taken off the list of countries in the original order, issued on Jan. 27, because the Iraqi government had imposed new vetting procedures, such as heightened visa screening and data sharing, and because of its work with the United States in countering Islamic State militants, the White House official said.

While the first order imposed restrictions immediately, the new directive will have an implementation delay to limit the disruptions that created havoc for some travelers, the White House official said.

The new order will take effect on March 16, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Monday.

Thousands of Iraqis have fought alongside U.S. troops for years or worked as translators since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Many have resettled in the United States after being threatened for working with U.S. troops.

The White House official said the new executive order, which the Republican president was expected to sign on Monday, also ensures that tens of thousands of legal permanent residents in the United States – or green card holders – from the listed countries would not be affected by the travel ban.

More than two dozen lawsuits were filed in U.S. courts against the original travel ban, and the state of Washington succeeded in having it suspended by the 9th Circuit court of Appeals by arguing that it violated constitutional protections against religious discrimination.

Trump publicly criticized judges who ruled against him and vowed to fight the case in the Supreme Court, but then decided to draw up a new order with changes aimed at making it easier to defend in the courts.

Refugees who are “in transit” and already have been approved would be able to travel to the United States.

Trump’s original order barred travelers from the seven nations from entering for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days. Refugees from Syria were to be banned indefinitely but under the new order they are not given separate treatment.

“This executive order has scrapped that division and the indefinite suspension and has collapsed them into a single category of a 120-day suspension,” the official said.

SECURITY CONSIDERATIONS

During the presidential election campaign last year, Trump called for a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the United States. He said his initial executive order issued just a week after he took office was needed to head off attacks by Islamist militants.

However, the White House official said the new order was based on national security considerations and had nothing to do with religion.

“It is substantially different from the first order yet it will do the same thing in this important way: It will protect the country and keep us safe,” the official said. The administration also would reset the clock on the 90-day travel ban.

The official said U.S. government agencies would determine whether Syria or other nations had made sufficient security improvements to be taken back into the refugee admissions program.

The new order launches a 90-day period for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to define a new series of requirements for countries to have full participation in U.S. entry programs.

For countries that do not comply, the U.S. State Department, the DHS and intelligence agencies can make recommendations on what, if any, restrictions should be imposed.

“It’s not an all-or-nothing scenario,” the official said.

The new order spells out detailed categories of people eligible to enter the United States, such as for business or medical travel, or people with family connections or who support the United States.

“There are a lot of explicit carve-outs for waivers and given on a case-by-case basis,” the official said.

Many of Trump’s supporters approved of the initial ban but critics said it was unjustified and discriminatory.

U.S. technology firms who had employees affected by the executive order also complained, and some members of Trump’s Cabinet urged him to remove Iraqis and green card holders from the list of those affected.

The White House was widely criticized for not working with the State Department, the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security and allies in Congress in drawing up the initial ban.

The confusion that caused led to a weekend of chaos, legal wrangling and protests in cities and at major airports across the United States.

(Additional reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Kieran Murray and Bill Trott)

The post Trump to leave Iraq off new travel ban order: White House source appeared first on One America News Network.




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Surgeons remove 915 coins swallowed by Thai sea turtle

FOX

Surgeons remove 915 coins swallowed by Thai sea turtle | Fox News

Asia

Published March 06, 2017
Raw video: Veterinarians perform life-saving operation on sea turtle in Bangkok to remove 915 coins from animal's stomach

 

Thai surgeons on Monday performed an emergency operation to avoid breaking the “Bank” — the nickname of a sea turtle who had ingested 915 coins that were cracking its shell.

Veterinarians in Bangkok operated on the 25-year-old female green sea turtle who had been inadvertently fed a diet of coins by luck-seeking tourists. Surgeons made a 4-inch incision in Bank, removing 11 pounds of coins that had cracked part of its shell — causing a life-threatening infection.

Many Thais believe throwing coins on turtles will bring longevity, and nearly a thousand tossed coins at Bank in her pool in the eastern town of Sri Racha.

Typically, a green sea turtle has a lifespan of around 80 years, said Roongroje Thanawongnuwech, dean of Chulalongkorn University’s veterinary faculty. It is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Five surgeons from Chulalongkorn University’s veterinary faculty patiently removed the coins over four hours while “Bank” was under general anesthesia. The stash was too big to take out through the incision they had made, so it had to be removed a few coins at a time. Many of them had corroded or partially dissolved.

“The result is satisfactory. Now it’s up to Bank how much she can recover,” said Pasakorn Briksawan, one of the surgical team. While recovering in Chulalongkorn University’s animal hospital, the turtle will be on a liquid diet for the next two weeks.

Bank was brought in to veterinarians by the navy, which found her ailing in her seaside hometown.

It was only after a detailed 3D scan that veterinarians pinpointed the weighty and unexpected problem. As well as the coins they also found 2 fish hooks, which were also removed today.

The surgery team leader said Monday that when she discovered the cause of the turtle’s agony she was furious.

“I felt angry that humans, whether or not they meant to do it or if they did it without thinking, had caused harm to this turtle,” said Nantarika Chansue, head of Chulalongkorn University’s veterinary medical aquatic animal research center.

Thai media began publicizing the turtle’s tale last month after she was found, and in response, some 15,000 baht ($428) in donations was raised from the public to pay for her surgery.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Determined Rodriguez out to prove his Real Madrid credentials

Reuters Sports

MADRID (Reuters) - James Rodriguez has struggled to find a place in Real Madrid under Zinedine Zidane, but he has not given up hope of forcing his way in.
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Nigeria seeks U.S. immigration clarity, advises against non-urgent travel

Reuters Africa

LAGOS (Reuters) - Nigeria has advised its citizens against any non-urgent travel to the United States until Washington clarifies its immigration policy, after several incidents in which people with valid visas were denied entry, a presidential aide said on Monday.
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Out in the cold: New U.S. budget priorities threaten housing aid programs

OANN

March 6, 2017

By James Oliphant

(Reuters) – When Paul Ryan, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, talks of social mobility, about helping struggling Americans move out of impoverished areas to give them greater opportunity, Shiva Daniels is the kind of person he has in mind.

A federal housing voucher allowed Daniels to escape her crime-plagued neighborhood in Dallas, Texas, and move her four children to the suburb of Garland.

That move helped Daniels find a good job, working for a property management company. Today, she cherishes the small, two-bedroom house she rents, with a yard where her children can safely play, away from drugs and gang violence in Dallas.

But if Daniels, 31, were to lose the $1,082 monthly stipend she receives, she has no doubt what would happen. “I would have to move back,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to afford it.”

Pulling Americans out of poverty is a subject close to Ryan’s heart. And President Donald Trump has frequently talked about aiding the inner cities.

But the housing assistance provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, could fall victim to fiscal policies under consideration by the White House and Congress, which include a massive tax cut and increased military spending, according to a dozen congressional aides who spoke to Reuters.

While the White House has not been specific about its plans for HUD — the budget process remains in flux — it has called for a $54 billion cut in non-military discretionary domestic programs in the next fiscal year, which likely will dramatically impact safety-net programs that are not entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security, budget experts said.

Altogether, housing advocates paint a bleak picture of the landscape for low-income housing under the Trump administration. They warn that deep cuts to housing funds would force some people out of their homes and hollow out grant programs meant to revitalize urban neighborhoods.

There is also a ripple effect, they warn: Rental prices would likely rise alongside declines in affordable housing projects and vouchers available to renters. That would make it tougher for renters to save enough to eventually buy homes.

“It’s a bad cycle,” said Carol Galante, a former top HUD official during the Obama administration. “It puts pressure on the rental market. The rents are higher and higher so people can save less and less.”

IMAGE PROBLEMS

HUD provides about 5 million Americans with some form of housing assistance, either through vouchers to renters, subsidies to landlords or public housing projects, which comprises about 85 percent of its budget. It also sends about $8 billion annually directly to communities through grants.

Even so, only about one-quarter of those eligible for assistance in the country receive it.

Housing advocates say changes to its budget or mandate would be directly felt in low-income communities. They point out that in 2013, when the legislatively mandated budget cuts known as sequestration hit HUD, more than 100,000 renters nationwide lost their housing support.

Douglas Rice, an expert at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, estimates that for every 1 percent cut in HUD’s budget, 20,000 renters would lose their assistance

But critics of the agency, including some Republican lawmakers, say its anti-poverty and community-development programs are inefficient and wasteful, and that it has failed to live up to its mission. Today, the proportion of Americans who live below the poverty line — 14.5 percent — is about the same as it was 35 years ago.

HUD has also at times had difficulty shaking the image of a bureaucratic agency that is vulnerable to corruption. It was at the center of a bid-rigging scandal during the Reagan Administration. And Alphonso Jackson, the HUD secretary under President George W. Bush, resigned in 2008 amid allegations that he steered contracts to friends. Charges were never brought against Jackson.

“There are some sports teams that never seem to gel. I think we’re a little like that at HUD,” said Bud Albright, a Washington lobbyist who worked at the agency when Republican Jack Kemp was secretary in the early 1990s.

Trump, who has not been specific on his plans for the agency, selected Ben Carson to lead HUD. The former neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate won Senate confirmation last week.

Although Carson’s views hew closely to Republican orthodoxy on how too much government can discourage people from working hard, his upbringing in inner-city Detroit gives him a unique perspective: his mother received food stamps to provide for her family and he was raised around housing assistance programs similar to those he will now manage.

Carson, who declined requests for interviews by Reuters, has pledged to fight to protect HUD’s housing-assistance budget and preserve the agency’s community-development initiatives. He also said he would push to include funding to rehabilitate public-housing facilities in Trump’s proposed $1 trillion infrastructure plan.

But given the White House’s determination to cut domestic spending, Carson will have to fight for every dollar. A HUD spokesman declined to comment on which programs could be hurt by any possible budget cuts. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget did not respond to a request for comment.

‘A BIG DEAL’

Congress, too, is looking to narrow HUD’s reach.

Ryan has called for work requirements and time limits on those who receive housing assistance, similar to how child support, food assistance and other welfare benefits function.

Tax reform spearheaded by Ryan and Kevin Brady, the House Ways and Means chairman, could ultimately do away with a key tax credit used by developers to build affordable housing, or could drastically curtail the credit’s use.

One vocal critic of HUD is Jeb Hensarling, Republican chair of the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees the housing agency. Hensarling plans to introduce legislation this year to narrow the $1 trillion portfolio of the Federal Housing Administration, which helps low-income and first-time homebuyers purchase homes, his office said.

Hensarling has said he fears that if home values drop the FHA would require another federal bailout as it did in 2013, when it received a taxpayer-funded infusion of $1.7 billion to cover its losses.

If the cuts to HUD’s budget are as severe as some expect, those who are on waiting lists now for vouchers will be staying on them for a very long time, and recipients such as Shiva Daniels, who has been receiving assistance for six years, will be at risk of seeing that support end.

That would mean losing her small house, with the yard she sees as a safe haven for her children. “It might not feel like it’s a big deal, but it is,” Daniels said. “When you feel good, it allows you to do better, and do better for them.”

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Jason Szep and Paul Thomasch)

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Trump to leave Iraq off new travel ban order - White House source

Reuters Top News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump will remove Iraq from a list of countries targeted in a U.S. travel ban when he is expected to sign a new executive order on Monday after his controversial first attempt was blocked in the courts, a White House source said.
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Trump to leave Iraq off new travel ban order - White House source

Reuters World

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump will remove Iraq from a list of countries targeted in a U.S. travel ban when he is expected to sign a new executive order on Monday after his controversial first attempt was blocked in the courts, a White House source said.
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Trump to unveil new travel ban Monday, without Iraq - CNN

World


CNN

Trump to unveil new travel ban Monday, without Iraq
CNN
Washington (CNN) The Trump administration Monday will announce a revised executive order banning immigration from six Muslim-majority countries, notably dropping Iraq from January's previous order, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said.
Trump administration is expected to order new, narrower travel ban todayLos Angeles Times
White House wants it both ways on revised travel banPolitico
Trump Will Sign A New Travel Ban Today — Here's How It's Different From The First OneBuzzFeed News
Reuters -The Hill -BBC News -NBCNews.com
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Splintering of Dutch politics augurs instability after election

Reuters World

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Netherlands faces political disarray after the March 15 election as mainstream parties, diminished by losses of voters to nationalist leader Geert Wilders but refusing to work with him, struggle to forge a viable coalition.
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See Inside Emma Watson's Stylish (and Sustainable!) Closet - PEOPLE.com

World


PEOPLE.com

See Inside Emma Watson's Stylish (and Sustainable!) Closet
PEOPLE.com
Emma Watson has made it her mission to wear exclusively eco-friendly clothes on her Beauty and the Beast promo tour — and we can't look away. Now the actress is opening up her personal closet and sharing the passion behind her commitment to ...
Emma Watson's revealing Vanity Fair photo: Feminism or hypocrisy?CNN
Emma Watson Responds to Controversy Over Vanity Fair PhotoshootVariety
Emma Watson defends her cleavage-baring photoPage Six
EW.com -Huffington Post -Fortune -BuzzFeed News
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Juppe says no to French presidential bid but slams candidate Fillon

Reuters World

BORDEAUX/PARIS (Reuters) - Former prime minister Alain Juppe said on Monday he had decided "once and for all" not to stand in France's presidential election, dashing the hopes of many in his conservative party whose scandal-hit candidate faces defeat.
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CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Golf-Race to Dubai rankings

Golf - Reuters

Earlier report contained last week's ranking. March 6 (Gracenote) - Race to Dubai rankings 1. (1) Tommy Fleetwood (Britain) 1550988 2. (2) Fabrizio Zanotti (Paraguay) 585312 3. (5) Sergio Garcia (Spain) 533847 4. (122) Ross Fisher (Britain) 497997 5. (3) Wang Jeunghun (South Korea) 478300 6. (4) David Lipsky (U.S.) 473051 7. Jon Rahm (Spain) 468117 8. (6) Sam Brazel (Australia) 433778 9.
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Inside Trump's 'worst deal'

MSNBC

Inside Trump's 'worst deal' | MSNBC
Morning Joe 03/06/17
The New Yorker's Adam Davidson reports on 'Donald Trump's Worst Deal,' which details Trump's attempt to build a five-star hotel in Azerbaijan. ... more Duration: {{video.duration.momentjs}}
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U.S. wages new strikes on al Qaeda in Yemen, U.S. officials say

Reuters World

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States carried out at least one new air strike on al Qaeda in Yemen overnight on Monday and has waged several strikes since Saturday, U.S. officials told Reuters, keeping up the pressure on the militants after starting a new push last week.
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Pujara, Rahane keep India afloat in second test

Reuters Sports

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane shared an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 93 to keep alive India's hopes of a series-levelling win over Australia, giving the hosts a lead of 126 on a see-saw third day of the second test on Monday.
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Comey, Justice Department at odds over...

MSNBC

The day before Donald Trump was inaugurated as president, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-CIA Director John Brennan wanted to tell the incoming White House team that Michael Flynn had been lying about his contacts with Russia. FBI Director James Comey disagreed.

As the Washington Post reported last month, Comey pushed back against the idea “primarily on the grounds that notifying the new administration could complicate the agency’s investigation” into Russia’s intervention on Trump’s behalf. Quoting a source familiar with Comey’s thinking at the time, the FBI director didn’t think the bureau should be “the truth police.”

“In other words, if there’s not a violation of law here, it’s not our job to go and tell the vice president that he’s been lied to,” the source said.

A month later, Donald Trump apparently started lying to the nation about former President Obama wiretapping the Republican’s phone line before the election. According to the New York Times’ reporting, Comey believed in this case that the FBI should be the truth police.

The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement. […]

Mr. Comey’s request is a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president, putting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the position of questioning Mr. Trump’s truthfulness. The confrontation between the two is the most serious consequence of Mr. Trump’s weekend Twitter outburst, and it underscores the dangers of what the president and his aides have unleashed by accusing the former president of a conspiracy to undermine Mr. Trump’s young administration.

It’s worth pausing to appreciate the circumstances the nation finds itself in. The sitting president of the United States, apparently after reading some nonsense on a right-wing website, seems to have lied to the nation about a conspiracy involving his predecessor. The director of the FBI – a Republican appointed by Obama – concluded that the president was lying and asked the Justice Department to tell Americans the truth.

The Justice Department ignored the request, allowing Trump’s apparent deception to stand.

There’s no reason to assume Comey was motivated by a desire to defend Obama. On the contrary, this is about the bureau he leads: if federal officials conducted illegal surveillance against Trump during the election, the misdeeds would’ve been conducted by the FBI.

In other words, Comey had an incentive to push back against Trump’s bizarre conspiracy theory, not because of Obama, but to defend the bureau.

The Justice Department, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who appears to have given false testimony about his own contacts with Russia, made no effort to correct the record over the weekend. If the Times’ reporting is accurate, it suggests the DOJ simply blew off Comey’s plea.

A White House spokesperson, meanwhile, was asked on ABC News this morning whether Trump accepts Comey’s findings. “No, I don’t think he does,” White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said of the president’s perspective.

So the president is at odds with the FBI director, and the FBI director is at odds with the Justice Department, all in response to Donald Trump’s latest conspiracy theory, which offers evidence that the president is more inclined to believe Breitbart News over James Comey.

Among the many questions on my mind this morning: does Comey have any regrets for intervening in the presidential election last October and helping put Trump in the Oval Office?




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South African competition watchdog seeks penalty against Japan's K-Line

Reuters Africa

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's competition watchdog said on Monday that it had recommended a fine equivalent to 10 percent of Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd's (K-Line) local turnover for conspiring to rig bids for shipping cars.
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As Netanyahu faces police questioning, rivals look 'post-Bibi'

Reuters World

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Police are expected to question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a fourth time on Monday in a corruption investigation that has prompted political rivals to start looking to a "post-Bibi" Israel.
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Cricket-India batting coach urges Rahul to be more responsible

Cricket - Reuters

BENGALURU, March 6 (Reuters) - India opener Lokesh Rahul must improve his temperament and put a bigger price on his wicket, the team's batting coach Sanjay Bangar said on Monday.
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South Africa's Zuma picks first woman to head top appeal court

Reuters Africa

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African President Jacob Zuma on Monday nominated Mandisa Maya to become the first woman president of the Supreme Court of Appeal, the nation's highest court on non-constitutional matters.
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'No impulse control': Trump's focus on the...

MSNBC

'No impulse control': Trump's focus on the short game | MSNBC
Morning Joe 03/06/17
The New York Times' Helene Cooper and Joanna Coles join Morning Joe to discuss Donald Trump's controversial new round of tweets about President Obama and allegations of wire tapping. ... more Duration: {{video.duration.momentjs}}
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Wenger rejects 'completely false' reports of Sanchez bust-up

Reuters Sports

LONDON (Reuters) - Reports of a training ground bust-up between Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez and his Arsenal team mates are "completely false", manager Arsene Wenger said on Monday.
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Irina Dvorovenko told she was 'too sexy' for 'Americans' role

FOX

Drama

Published March 06, 2017
Actress Irina Dvorovenko attends "The Americans" Season 5 Premiere at DGA Theater on February 25, 2017 in New York City.

Actress Irina Dvorovenko attends “The Americans” Season 5 Premiere at DGA Theater on February 25, 2017 in New York City.  (Getty)

Ukrainian actress Irina Dvorovenko almost didn’t land a role in “The Americans” because she was “too sexy” for the part.

“I auditioned three times for this. I wanted a part that had nothing to do with dancing,” the former American Ballet Theatre principal told the New York Post.

After weeks went by, the ballerina said she was told her good looks were holding her back.

“I was finally told, ‘They think you are too hot, too sexy, for this part.’”

KERI RUSSELL AND MATTHEW RHYS GUSH OVER EACH OTHER AHEAD OF ‘THE AMERICANS’ SEASON 5

Dvorovenko then decided to take off all of her makeup, jewelry and keep her hair unkempt for an audition video she sent to producers. It worked.

“They saw a different side of me,” Dvorovenko said.

The 43-year-old has a special connection to the FX show starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as undercover Soveit spies living in the Virginia suburbs in the early ’80s. Dvorovenko said her parents, both Russian dancers, were “constantly under KGB eyes” when they traveled abroad to perform.

“All the time, the KGB was following them,” she said.

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