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NEWS   SATURDAY, FEBRUARY  25, 2017   NEWS

Trump-Reagan Parallels Are Scary, But Not For The Reasons Critics Think
The media laugh at any attempt to compare President Trump to former President Ronald Reagan, but there are many similarities, not the least of which are the withering attacks both men endured before and after they sought the presidency. The extraordinary assaults by media, celebrities and jealous politicians against Trump have been unending. Their attacks include questioning his mental health, repeatedly comparing him to Hitler, declaring him a fascist, insisting he’s a modern-day Manchurian candidate, that he’s a traitor (because Russians!), and on and on. Fox News
VOA VIEW: The liberal media are out of control.

JCPenney To Shutter 130-140 Stores, Shares Sink
JCPenney (JCP) on Friday said it will shutter 130 to 140 stores and close two distribution facilities in an effort to reinvent itself online, cut dead weight at underperforming physical locations, and better optimize its remaining bricks-and-mortar locations. Sales at stores open at least a year, a key metric for retailers, slid 0.7% during the fourth quarter (including the key holiday season), which compared to a 4.1% bump during the same period the year prior, the company announced during its earnings release on Friday. Penney said it expects comparable-store sales to be between -1% and 1% in 2017. Fox News

White House Blocks News Organizations From Press Briefing
CNN and other news outlets were blocked on Friday from attending an off-camera White House press briefing that other reporters were hand-picked to attend, raising alarm among media organizations and First Amendment watchdogs. The decision struck veteran White House journalists as unprecedented in the modern era, and escalated tensions in the already fraught relationship between the Trump administration and the press. The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico and BuzzFeed were also among those excluded from the meeting, which was held in White House press secretary Sean Spicer's office. The meeting, which is known as a gaggle, was held in lieu of the daily televised Q-and-A session in the White House briefing room. CNN
VOA VIEW: The liberal media don't like being minimized - the  get all the news without the notoriety.

Boehner: Obamacare Repeal And Replace Not What's Going To Happen
Former House Speaker John Boehner threw cold water Thursday on the prospect of congressional Republicans following through on their pledge to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. "They'll fix Obamacare," the former Ohio congressman predicted at a conference hosted by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society in Orlando, Florida. "I shouldn't have called it repeal and replace because that's not what's going to happen. They're basically going to fix the flaws and put a more conservative box around it." Boehner's comments come as his former colleagues face an uncertain path forward on dismantling then-President Barack Obama's signature achievement. The party has yet to settle on a replacement plan, and many members are facing criticism at town hall meetings this week from constituents who are upset about the potential ramifications of Republicans following through on the campaign pledge. CNN
VOA VIEW: Time will tell.

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Officials In Legal Marijuana State Vow To Fight Federal Crackdown
Officials in Washington state, where recreational marijuana is legal, vow to fight any federal crackdown on the nascent industry after White House spokesman Sean Spicer said they should expect to see stepped-up enforcement of anti-pot laws. Bob Ferguson, attorney general in Washington state, which joined Colorado in 2012 as the first states to legalize recreational use of the drug, said he requested a meeting last week with Attorney General Jeff Sessions about his approach to legal, regulated marijuana. "We will resist any efforts to thwart the will of the voters in Washington," Ferguson said Thursday. CNS News
VOA VIEW: Bring it on.

Mexico: We’ll Go To The U.N. To Defend ‘Human Rights’ Of Mexicans In U.S.
Mexico’s foreign minister says his government will seek the intervention of the United Nations if necessary to defend the human rights of its citizens caught up in the Trump administration’s tough new approach to illegal immigration. Speaking on the eve of Thursday’s meetings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray said at a meeting with officials from the U.N. human rights office that Mexico “does not have to accept provisions that one government wants unilaterally to impose on another.” “The government of Mexico will act by all means legally possible to defend the human rights of Mexicans abroad, particularly in the United States,” he said. CNS News
VOA VIEW: The UN cannot and will not dictate to the US.

Trump Vows Military Build-Up, Hammers Nationalist Themes
President Donald Trump said he would make a massive budget request for one of the "greatest military buildups in American history" on Friday in a feisty, campaign-style speech extolling robust nationalism to eager conservative activists. Trump used remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an organization that gave him one of his first platforms in his improbable journey to the U.S. presidency, to defend his unabashed "America first" policies. Reuters

Former Border Patrol Officials Question Trump Plan To Add Agents
A U.S. Department of Homeland Security plan to add more than 5,000 border enforcement agents will present logistical challenges and might be unnecessary, according to former government officials familiar with earlier pushes to accelerate border hiring. Three former top officials at U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) told Reuters in interviews that ramping up hiring at the agency, as outlined in a directive on Tuesday, would be expensive, while rapid expansion poses the risk of corruption if screening protocols for recruits are relaxed. Reuters

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Merriam-Webster Tweet Corrects Conway’s Definition Of Feminism
Everyone in political life can expect to encounter criticism, perhaps especially on Twitter. But when you wind up getting repeatedly publicly corrected by one of America's most respected dictionaries, that's a bit out of the ordinary. Kellyanne Conway, a top adviser to President Donald Trump, now knows how that feels. At the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, Conway said she did not consider herself a feminist, as the term is usually used. "It's difficult for me to call myself a feminist in a classic sense because it seems to be very anti-male, and it certainly is very pro-abortion, and I'm neither anti-male or pro-abortion," Conway said. Merriam-Webster begged to differ, tweeting about its definition of the word just hours later. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: What definition?

Gabby Giffords Tells GOP Members To ‘Face Your Constituents’
Former Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head on a Saturday morning in January 2011. The following Monday, her offices were open for business, she said. Giffords reminded lawmakers of this in a string of tweets sent out on Thursday after Representative Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, cited her shooting as a reason he would not be holding an in-person town hall meeting. "To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage. Face your constituents," Giffords wrote. "Hold town halls." MSNBC

Trump Orders All Federal Agencies To Form ‘Regulatory Reform Task Force’
President Trump on Friday signed another executive order aimed at reducing federal regulations, this time directing all government agencies to form a “regulatory reform task force” that will identify unneeded red tape and remove it. In brief comments in the Oval Office, the president said each task force will report back to the White House “every once in a while” with their findings. “Each task force will make recommendations to repeal or simplify existing regulations,” Mr. Trump said while surrounded by top U.S. business leaders. “The regulatory burden is, for the people behind me and for the great companies of this country, and for the small companies, an impossible situation. We’re going to solve it very quickly.” Washington Times

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Trump Whacks FBI Over ‘National Security Leakers,’ Wants Them Rooted Out
President Trump accused the FBI on Friday of failing to prevent sensitive leaks to the media, as the administration beats back news that White House officials asked the agency to knock down reports about alleged contact between the Trump campaign and Russia last year. “The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security ‘leakers’ that have permeated our government for a long time. They can’t even ……find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is being given to media that could have devastating effect on U.S. FIND NOW,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter. A CNN report said the FBI denounced a White House request to publicly reject reports about communications between Mr. Trump’s associates and certain Russians known to U.S. intelligence during the campaign. There are restrictions on contact between the White and FBI during active investigations. For its part, the administration said it made its request because the FBI indicated that reports were not accurate. Washington Times

Belly Fat More Dangerous Than Being Overweight
In older women, it’s not excess weight that’s deadly, but where those extra pounds collect that can shorten life, a new study reports. Among women 70 to 79, being overweight or obese didn’t appear to cut years off life -- unless the weight was centered around the waist. But being underweight also appeared to shorten life span, researchers found. “Abdominal fat is more deadly than carrying excess weight,” said lead researcher Zhao Chen. She’s chair of the University of Arizona’s department of epidemiology and biostatistics in the College of Public Health. CBS

Hispanics Divided Over What Trump Presidency Means About Their Place In U.S.
Hispanic people in the U.S. are divided about what Donald Trump’s presidency means for them, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center. The poll found that 54 percent of Hispanics said that they’re confident about their place in America after Mr. Trump’s election and 41 percent said they have serious concerns. Among undocumented immigrants, 55 percent said that they have serious concerns about their place in the U.S. The same was said by 38 percent of U.S.-born Hispanic and 34 percent of Hispanic immigrants to the U.S. Forty-nine percent of Hispanic lawful permanent residents said they have serious concerns, too. CBS

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Why 2017 Could Be The Most Political Year Of The Academy Awards
For decades, going to the movies has given people a two-hour escape from the daily news cycle. But at the Academy Awards -- the pinnacle event in Hollywood -- winners on occasion have used the platform to bring attention to political issues. ABC News film critic Peter Travers predicts this year will "be the most political year of the Academy Awards ever." When did the Oscars become so political? Hollywood insiders often point to the 1973 Oscars as the precursor to political speeches. That year Marlon Brando asked Sacheen Littlefeather, the president of National Native American Affirmative Image Committee, to attend the Oscars on his behalf. ABC
VOA VIEW: The liberal media will lose watchers if they go political.

Obama Science Adviser Rejoins Climate-Change Think Tank
President Barack Obama's top science adviser has rejoined the climate science organization he led before his White House service. John Holdren on Friday rejoined the Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Research Center as a senior adviser to its president. Holdren was himself president of the organization from 2005 to 2009 before joining Obama's team. The Woods Hole Research Center is a top-rated independent climate-change think tank. Holdren joined the Obama administration in 2009. He became the longest serving presidential science adviser. ABC

U.S Treasuries Might Finally Be Ready To Stage A Breakaway
U.S. Treasury yields may break out of a two-month holding pattern as the tug-of-war between bulls and bears is decisively settled by President Donald Trump’s speech to Congress next week and a slew of upcoming data. The skew between payers and receivers on 10-year yields has dropped to zero from about eight basis points seen a week after Trump’s election, suggesting increased demand to protect short bond positions. The skew may diverge from zero following Trump’s address to Congress on Feb. 28, where he may unveil details of his tax reforms, and a string of key data releases, including inflation and the U.S. employment report. Steeper skews would indicate payers richening relative to receivers, signaling expectations for higher rates. ABC

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Americans Haven't Been This Optimistic About The Job Market In Over 30 Years
The largest share of Americans in decades believes the labor market still has room to grow. Thirty-five percent of U.S. consumers surveyed by the University of Michigan this month expect unemployment to further decline during the year ahead, the largest share of respondents since March 1984 -- a time when unemployment was a full three percentage points higher than the current rate of 4.8 percent. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Trump!

NASA Studying Manned Trip Around The Moon After Prod From Trump
The U.S. is studying a possible manned mission around the moon as early as next year, marking the first such trip since the Apollo era ended in the early 1970s. Following requests from the White House, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has formed a team to examine accelerating earlier plans to launch a crew by 2021, William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of the agency’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, said Friday. Preliminary results of the review should be ready in about a month. “We have a good, crisp list of all the things we would physically have to change” on the launch vehicle under development, Gerstenmaier said on a conference call with reporters. “We asked the team to take a look at potentially what additional tests would be needed to add crew, what the additional risk would be.” Bloomberg

Rutgers Pays Up For Obama's 2016 Commencement Address
Final accounting shows Rutgers University spent close to $1.5 million on last year's commencement ceremony headlined by then-President Barack Obama. The cost is 58 percent more than the university spent the previous year when Bill Nye "The Science Guy" addressed the school's graduates, NJ.com reported. The roughly $523,000 in additional funding went toward more police, a traffic safety consultant to coordinate road closures and other expenses. "In 2016, about 52,000 people — nearly 50 percent more than the previous year — attended the event," said Rutgers spokeswoman Karen Smith. "The difference in costs reflects additional expenses to accommodate the crowd, ranging from extra buses to additional rental chairs and programs. Newsday

Trump Puts Moderate GOP Governors Like Sandoval In Awkward Spot
These should be heady times for the GOP as the nation's governors prepare to gather for their winter meeting in Washington, D.C. Republicans hold 33 governorships, compared with just 16 for Democrats, and the GOP has full control of the legislatures in two-thirds of the states. But there is a sense of unease for Republican governors in Democratic-leaning states. They criticize President Donald Trump gently, picking their spots to appease the Democratic and independent voters they need to remain in office. At the same time, they don't want to alienate Trump supporters. For some, the best strategy is to avoid mentioning Trump at all. Las Vegas Sun

Pence Speaking In Las Vegas To Key GOP Jewish Group
Vice President Mike Pence's speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition will be the visual evidence of the fruits of years of the politically active group's labors. The annual conference at billionaire donor Sheldon Adelson's casino resort on the Las Vegas Strip has become a de facto campaign stop for Republican presidential candidates over the past few years. In 2014, four people who would jump into the GOP primary attended the RJC conference. One of them, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, seemed to tailor his remarks to an audience of one: He repeatedly made eye contact with the billionaire and concluded by thanking "Sheldon" for inviting him. The RJC also drew the entire GOP presidential field to its December 2015 forum in Washington. Las Vegas Sun

New DNA Vaccine Design Could Help In Cancer Fight
Researchers at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia and Inovio Pharmaceuticals have devised a new DNA vaccine approach to improve anti-tumor immunity in cancer patients. Immunotherapy treatments are designed to use the body's natural immune defenses to target and kill cancer cells. DNA vaccines can induce immunity through the delivery of a sequence of synthetically designed DNA that contains instructions for immune cells to target a specific cancer antigen. UPI News

Trump Thanks Cheering CPAC Attendees For Helping Elect Him President
Donald Trump thanked a boisterous crowd Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference for helping elect him president, one year after he was criticized for skipping the event. Attendees in the full Potomac ballroom at the Gaylord National resort in National Harbor, Md., cheered as the president arrived on the stage of the conservative gathering. "It's great to be back at CPAC ... I love this place. I love you people," Trump said. "I wouldn't miss a chance to talk to my friends -- these are my friends. We'll see you again next year, and the year after that. I'll be doing this with CPAC whenever I can." UPI News

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DECISION-MAKING AT TIMES OF WAR AND PEACE
Former National Security Council chief Uzi Arad told The Jerusalem Post in a recent series of interviews that he has been fighting a war since the day he joined the Mossad in the mid-1970s. Not a war on behalf of the State of Israel against terrorists or Iran, but an internal war over the balance of power on national security decisions in the government. Arad’s successor, Yaakov Amidror, when explaining his predecessor’s successful and aggressive approach to ensuring the NSC’s authority, noted that as he entered the NSC office in 2011, he “found fresh droplets of blood streaming over the gate.” Jerusalem Post

NY GOVERNOR UNVEILS NEW PLAN TO FIGHT ANTISEMITISM AND HATE CRIMES
Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled on Thursday a new plan of action in order to combat antisemitism and hate crimes across the state of New York, including a $25 Million grant for schools to improve security, $5,000 rewards for any Information leading to arrest and conviction for a hate crime, and a new hate crimes text line to report incidents. The governor made the announcement during a press conference held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in downtown Manhattan, just after holding a roundtable discussion with representatives of the Jewish community and leaders of other faiths. Jerusalem Post

East Libya Bans Travel For Those Aged Between 18 And 45
Eastern Libya has banned men and women between the ages of 18 and 45 from travelling abroad without permission. The region's military chief of staff, Abdelrazzak Al-Naduri, said the aim of the move was to prevent people from joining terrorist groups abroad. Libya has rival administrations in the east and west, and much of the country is effectively controlled by militias. The new order comes days after a controversial ban on women's travel was introduced, and quickly suspended. BBC

Trump Promises Border Wall 'Soon, Way Ahead Of Schedule'
US President Donald Trump has vowed to start building a wall on the Mexican border "soon, way ahead of schedule", in a speech at a conservative event. Addressing the Conservative Political Action Congress (CPAC), he vowed to always put American citizens first and build a "great, great border wall". He also promised to focus on "getting bad people out of this country". Mr Trump was greeted by chants of "USA, USA, USA!" as he addressed the annual forum in Maryland. BBC

Montana Democrats Accuse Republicans Of Voter Suppression Ahead Of Special Election
Montana’s Republican party leadership is opposing a Republican-sponsored measure to reform the state’s elections, warning that it would “give Democrats an inherent advantage” due to their ability to increase voter turnout door-to-door. In an email titled Emergency Chairman’s Report, the Republican party chairman, Jeff Essmann, set off a furious war of words, with Democrats accusing Republicans of attempting to suppress the vote because it might mean a loss for the party. Guardian

China Hits Back At Donald Trump's 'Champion Of Currency Manipulation' Jibe
Beijing has hit back at Donald Trump after the US president risked reigniting a simmering feud with China by accusing it of being the “grand champion” of currency manipulation. After months of turbulence and uncertainty between the world’s two biggest economies, relations appeared to settle two weeks ago after the US president and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, held their first phone conversation since the billionaire’s inauguration. Guardian

India Fury Over US 'Hate Crime' Shootings Of Two Of Its Citizens In Olathe Kansas
51-year-old Kansas man has been charged with killing an Indian engineer and wounding two other men when he opened fire in a bar in what federal authorities probed on Friday as a possible hate crime that shocked the victim's home country. The shooting on Wednesday night led news bulletins in India and triggered outrage on social media, where people voiced concern that US President Donald Trump's "America First" position on immigration and jobs has fueled a climate of intolerance. Telegraph

Nigel Farage Barnstorms US Conservative Jamboree And Predicts Donald Trump And Brexit-Inspired 'Global Revolution'
Nigel Farage has travelled to Washington to tell Donald Trump's followers that they are part of a "global revolution" that began with Brexit. Mr Farage was greeted with a standing ovation at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and he spoke of the "Brexit mania" he had witnessed after travelling to the US to take part in a Trump rally. "I'm proud to be a part of that campaign, I really am," he said, adding that he was beginning to feel "more American" ever since Mr Trump's victory. Telegraph

UNESCO Meeting Lays Groundwork For Reviving, Protecting Iraq’s Cultural Heritage
As details on the destruction of and damage to Iraq’s rich and diverse cultural heritage emerge, the United Nations cultural agency has appealed to the international community to help protect and revive the country’s archaeological, religious and cultural sites for future generations. “This is a turning point for the Iraqi people and for the world’s understanding of the role of heritage for societies in conflict situations,” said the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova. UN News

UN Reports More Than 300 Migrant Deaths On Mediterranean Crossing In First Two Months Of 2017
An estimated 366 migrants died at sea during their Mediterranean journey to Europe in the first 53 days of 2017, down from 425 of the comparable period of last year, the United Nations migration agency said today. International Organization for Migration (IOM) has reported that 13,924 migrants entered Europe by sea through 22 February, sharply down from 105,427 a year earlier. These data include the death toll reported this week from a boat with as many as 133 passengers on board that foundered off Az Zawiyah, near Tripoli on this past Sunday. UN News

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