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NEWS   MONDAY, MARCH  27, 2017   NEWS

Trump Hits Freedom Caucus, Washington Conservatives For Nixing ObamaCare Overhaul
President Trump on Sunday criticized conservative Republicans for nixing the party's ObamaCare overhaul plan, saying, “Democrats are smiling” because the conservatives saved the struggling health care law and Planned Parenthood. “Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!,” Trump tweeted. Fox News
VOA VIEW: Republicans are causing their own mayhem.

John Kasich Says He's Not Running For Office Again
Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Sunday that despite keeping up a high profile since his failed 2016 presidential bid, he has no intention of running for office again. Asked by CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" if was going to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020, Kasich repeatedly said, "No." "I'm not really interested in running for political office again," Kasich said. "I don't see it. I just don't see it." Kasich was the last candidate to bow out of the Republican presidential race last year, leaving Trump the presumptive nominee, and refused to support him in the general election. He met with Trump at the White House recently to discuss health care and came out against the now-rescinded GOP plan to repeal and replace part of Obamacare. CNN
VOA VIEW: Kasich is seeking an appointment.

Mexico: 16 Inmates At Large After Tunnel Prison Break
Sixteen of 29 inmates are still on the run after they made an audacious escape by tunneling underneath a Mexican prison wall, authorities said. The inmates escaped Thursday from a prison in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas state secretariat of security said Saturday. Following the escape, security officials destroyed unauthorized shelters constructed by inmates on prison grounds and searched cells. In reaction to those efforts, a riot broke out in the prison Friday night. Three inmates were stabbed to death and one was injured, officials said. The inmates set debris on fire during the riot, but the flames were put out within an hour. CNN

Angry Over U.S. Healthcare Fail, Trump Voters Spare Him Blame
The day after the flaming out of U.S. President Donald Trump's first major legislative initiative, his supporters across America were lashing out - at conservatives, at Democrats, at leaders of his Republican Party in Congress. Only Trump himself was spared their wrath. Many voters who elected him appeared largely willing to give him a pass on the collapse of his campaign promise to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system, stressing his short time in office. Reuters

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Freedom Caucus' Jordan: End ObamaCare Blaming, ‘Let’s Get To Work’
House Freedom Caucus co-founder Rep. Jim Jordan tried Sunday to end the blame being cast upon his group and others for Republicans’ failed ObamaCare overhaul bill, saying, “Let’s get to work.” “Instead of doing the blame game, let’s get to work,” Jordan, R-Ohio, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Let’s do the responsible thing. Let’s get back to work and do what we told the voters we were going to do.” Much of the blame has been directed at the conservative group and its roughly 30 members, after House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday realized he didn’t have enough support for the bill in the GOP-led chamber and canceled the final vote on Friday. Fox News

White House Looks Past Conservatives On Tax Reform - To Democrats
Fresh off a defeat on U.S. healthcare legislation, the White House warned rebellious conservative lawmakers that they should get behind President Donald Trump's agenda or he may bypass them on future legislative fights, including tax reform. The threat by White House chief of staff Reince Priebus to build a broad coalition on tax reform that could include moderate Democrats came as the Republican head of the tax-writing committee in the House of Representatives said he hoped to move a tax bill through his panel this spring. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said his committee had been working on tax reform in parallel with the failed healthcare reform push. Reuters
VOA VIEW: Republicans have met their match - a real man - Trump.

Iran Strikes Back At U.S. With ‘Reciprocal’ Sanctions On 15 Companies
Iran on Sunday sanctioned what it described as 15 American companies, alleging they support terrorism, repression and Israel's occupation of land Palestinians want for a future state, likely in retaliation for sanctions earlier announced by the U.S. The wide-ranging list from an American real estate company to a major arms manufacturer appeared more symbolic than anything else as the firms weren't immediately known to be doing business anywhere in the Islamic Republic. A Foreign Ministry statement carried by the state-run IRNA news agency said the sanctions barred companies from any agreements with Iranian firms and that former and current directors would not be eligible for visas. It also said any of the company's assets in Iran could be seized. MSNBC

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Russia Probe Is ‘Most Important Thing I’ve Ever Done,’ Senate Intel Committee Vice Chair Warner Says
The vice chairman and top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee on Sunday re-affirmed how critical he feels his work is in looking into issues related to Russia's attempts to interfere with the 2016 election. "I've said before: this is the most important thing that I've ever done in my public life," Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., told NBC's "Meet The Press." "And what I know now as I get more and more into this: I am going to double down on that statement cause it's extraordinary." MSNBC
VOA VIEW: Grandstanding foolish Democrat.

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney Says ‘Washington Won’ In Failure To Repeal Obamacare
Mick Mulvaney, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said Sunday that the House Republicans’ bill to repeal and replace Obamacare failed because “Washington won.” He said President Trump proved himself ready to make deals and govern but the dysfunction of Washington — from the fractions House Republican conference to the steadfast opposition from Democrats — proved insurmountable. “There’s probably plenty of blame to go around,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “What happened is that Washington won,” said Mr. Mulvaney. “I think the one thing we learned this week is that Washington is a lot more broken than President Trump thought that it was.” Washington Times

President Trump Didn’t Endorse Judge Jeanine’s Call For Ouster Of Speaker Paul Ryan
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus dismissed speculation Sunday that President Trump wants to oust House Speaker Paul D. Ryan over the failure to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. “No, he doesn’t,” Mr. Priebus insisted on “Fox News Sunday.” The speculation about the president’s dissatisfaction with the speaker mounted after Mr. Trump urged his Twitter followers to watch Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro’s program on Saturday, in which she opened the show with a call for the removal of Mr. Ryan. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Time will tell - maybe a warning.

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Intelligence Committee Members Disagree On Dust-Up Involving Devin Nunes
The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee believes that the chairman of the committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., is in danger of being perceived as a partisan surrogate of the Trump White House. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.,, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” “I think the chairman has to make a decision, whether to act as a surrogate of the White House, as he did during the campaign and the transition, or to lead a independent and credible investigation. I hope he chooses the latter.”
Nunes and Schiff have been openly fighting since last week, after Nunes told reporters and the White House Wednesday that President Trump’s personal communications might have been picked up by the intelligence community through “incidental collection.” He made the remarks before he had briefed his colleagues on the committee, Republicans and Democrats alike. CBS
VOA VIEW: Schiff is a loud mouth liberal.

EPA Chief Says Trump Plans Executive Order Undoing Obama Clean Power Plan
EPA administrator Scott Pruitt says President Trump will sign an executive order Tuesday to roll back the Obama Clean Power Plant initiative, which aimed to curb greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. “The executive order will address the past administration’s efforts to kill jobs across this country” through the Clean Power Plan,” Pruitt told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, on “This Week.” Pruitt said he believes the order “absolutely” will bring back lost coal and manufacturing jobs “across the country.” He also promised the executive order would result in lower electricity rates for Americans. But the demand for coal has been waning, given the abundance of natural gas in recent years. CBS
VOA VIEW: Good!

Biden Says If He'd Run For President He Could Have Won
Former Vice President Joe Biden says that if he had run for president in 2016 he could have won. Biden told students at Colgate University in central New York on Friday that he could have won the election but the Democratic primary would have been "very difficult." Biden said his son Beau's battle with brain cancer kept him out of the race. The Observer-Dispatch of Utica reports ( http://bit.ly/2nS1bWc ) that Biden said anyone who runs for president should be able to "look the public in the eye and promise you they can give you 100 percent." Biden says he doesn't regret not running but added, "Do I regret not being president? Yes." ABC
VOA VIEW: He didn't - dumb.

‘I’ve Had No Contacts Or Collusion’ With Russia
Political strategist Roger Stone, longtime friend and adviser to President Trump, doubled down on his defense against allegations that he or others in the Trump campaign may have colluded with Russia in its interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. “I have had no contacts or collusion with the Russians,” Stone told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” on Sunday. “There is no collusion, none -- at least none that I know about, in Donald Trump's campaign for president.” Stone also slammed the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, saying he is “full of Schiff.” ABC

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Trump Lashes Out At Republicans For Defeat Of Health Bill
President Donald Trump lashed out at Republican leaders and groups on Sunday for the defeat of the bill to repeal and replace his predecessor’s health-care law, after blaming Democrats for the loss on Friday. In a Twitter posting to his 27 million followers, Trump criticized the House Freedom Caucus, the conservative Heritage Foundation and the free-market advocacy group Club for Growth, which opposed the bill for not going far enough to erase Obamacare, the system implemented by Democrats under President Barack Obama. “Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club for Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!” Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: The bill was bad and Democrats are at fault and good at the game.

New Orleans Tourism Records: 10.45M Tourists, $7.4B
A new study says New Orleans has broken a tourism record set before Hurricane Katrina, with nearly 10.5 million visitors in 2016. The record had stood at 10.1 million since 2004, the year before the hurricane struck. University of New Orleans' Hospitality Research Center says last year's visitors spent $7.41 billion dollars. That's 51 percent more than the amount spent in 2004, and 5.1 percent above the spending record set in 2015. The study, made for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp., was released Thursday. Las Vegas Sun

Medical Pot Bill In S. Carolina Bolstered By Conservatives
South Carolina Rep. Eric Bedingfield once shunned all marijuana use, but when his eldest son's six-year struggle with opioid addiction ended with his overdose a year ago, the conservative Republican co-sponsored medical cannabis legislation. "My mindset has changed from somebody who looked down on it as a negative substance to saying, 'This has benefits,'" Bedingfield said recently. The 50-year-old teetotaler believes marijuana may effectively wean addicts from an opioid dependence. Ultimately, the Marine veteran hopes medical marijuana can be an alternative to people being prescribed OxyContin or other opioid painkillers to begin with, helping curb an epidemic he's seen destroy families of all economic levels. Two decades after California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, efforts to let patients legally access pot are slowly taking root in the South. Las Vegas Sun

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Merkel's Conservative Party Wins German Regional Election In Saarland
Conservatives captured the most votes for the parliamentary elections in the western German state of Saarland on Sunday -- a good sign of support for German Chancellor Angela Merkel going into her September national vote. The Christian Democrats won 40.5 percent of the votes, compared with 30 percent for the Social Democrats, far-left Die Linke at 13 percent and populist right-wing Alternative for Germany at 6 percent, according to exit polls by Infratest Dimap from public broadcaster ARD on Sunday night. UPI

Prescription Weight-Loss Drug May Help With Opioid Addiction
Researchers at the University of Texas in Galveston have discovered a prescription weight-loss medication has the potential to aid in recovery from opioid addiction.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified opioid abuse and addiction as a major health problem in the United States, with the number of opiate overdose deaths quadrupling since 1999. A new study from the University of Texas Medical Branch found that the weight-loss drug lorcaserin reduced the use and craving for the opioid oxycodone in preclinical studies. UPI

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Trump's Laptop Ban Is Proof His Hands Aren't Tied, Hawaii Says
Hawaii’s attorney general says new U.S. government rules prohibiting the use of laptops and other electronic gadgets on flights from eight Muslim-majority nations prove that President Donald Trump’s control of immigration and national security isn’t hampered by the state’s lawsuit over his travel ban. The ban on large electronic devices, announced Tuesday, failed to trigger widespread condemnation and litigation the way Trump’s March 6 executive order against travel from six Muslim-majority countries did. Several states, citing Trump’s comments about Muslims on the campaign trail, claim the travel ban has a discriminatory intent. Bloomberg

IRAN SANCTIONS 15 US FIRMS, CITING ISRAEL TIES AND 'HUMAN RIGHT'S
Iran has imposed sanctions on 15 US companies for alleged human rights violations and cooperating with Israel, the state news agency IRNA reported on Sunday. The agency quoted Iran's foreign ministry as saying the companies had "flagrantly violated human rights" and cooperated with Israel against the Palestinians. It was not immediately clear if any of the companies, which included defense technology firm Raytheon, had any dealings with Iran or whether they would be affected in any way by Tehran's action, which IRNA said would include seizure of their assets and a ban on contacts with them. Jerusalem Post

TEXAS JEWISH GROUPS TAKE AIM AT BANK'S BDS ACTIVITY
The Dallas-based Comerica bank faced a wave of sharp criticism from Texas Jewish organizations over the weekend because it maintains an account with a legal group that promotes a boycott of Israel and whitewashes terrorism. The Texas Senate passed an anti-BDS bill on Wednesday that will proceed to the chamber of the US House of Representatives. Daniel S. Mariaschin, the executive vice president at B'nai B'rith, whose organization testified on Wednesday in Texas in support of an anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) law, told The Jerusalem Post, "Comerica should close the account." He said the pro-boycott Israel group International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) "excuses the actions of terrorist organizations and denies Israel's right to defend itself." Jerusalem Post

Syria Rebels 'Take Control' Of IS-Held Airbase Near Raqqa
US-backed Syrian rebels say they have taken full control of a key airbase held by the Islamic State group near its stronghold, Raqqa. Talal Sello, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said they had seized Tabqa airport from militants. It comes as the Kurdish-led fighters advance on Raqqa, IS's self-declared capital.
Earlier IS warned that the nearby Tabqa dam could collapse, sparking panic. However, the dam appears intact. The US-led coalition fighting the jihadists denied their claims that it had targeted the facility with airstrikes, leaving it dangerously vulnerable to failure. BBC

United Airlines Under Fire For 'Barring Girls Wearing Leggings'
United Airlines has been heavily criticised on social media after two girls were reportedly barred from flying for wearing leggings. The incident happened on a flight from Denver to Minneapolis on Sunday morning, activist Shannon Watts said. A United gate agent was "forcing" the girls, one of them aged 10, to change their clothes or wear dresses over the leggings, she tweeted. United said the girls were travelling on a ticket that had a dress code. They were "United pass travellers", which are tickets for company employees or eligible dependents, it explained in a Twitter exchange on the issue. BBC

'People Aren't Spending': Stores Close Doors In 'Oversaturated
Canal Street was never a high-end retail experience. But, like many streets in New York City and in cities across the US, it is becoming increasingly desolate. Boarded-up stores line the thoroughfare that bisects much of lower Manhattan. Many stores that are still open for business also display signs that read “for lease” or “for rent”. “It’s not Trump,” said one downcast store-owner recently. “It’s not the economy. Something else is happening. People aren’t spending.” Guardian

Uber Suspends Fleet Of Self-Driving Cars Following Arizona Crash
Uber has suspended its fleet of self-driving cars while it investigates a crash in Arizona involving one of its vehicles. Photographs posted online show the car lying on its side next to another badly damaged vehicle. There were no serious injuries as a result of the incident. The Uber Technologies car – a Volvo SUV – was carrying two engineers in the front and no backseat passengers but it is not yet clear whether the car was in self-driving mode at the time of the crash. The incident is the latest blow for the car-hailing app which has been left reeling by a series of setbacks in recent weeks including the departure of its president, Jeff Jones. Guardian

RAF Jets Were Flying In Mosul Region Where US-Led Coalition Air Strike 'Killed More Than A Hundred Civilians'
The Ministry of Defence was facing questions last night after it admitted that British jets were flying in the region of west Mosul where a coalition air strike is feared to have killed more than a hundred civilians fleeing Isil. A spokesman said the RAF was providing "close air support " to ground forces in the city, where on March 17 a US-led air strike destroyed several buildings in the neighbourhood of al-Jadidah. They refused to confirm whether British jets were directly involved in the strike, but said they had seen "no evidence" of causing civilian deaths. Telegraph

Al-Qaida Leader Behind Islamabad Hotel Bomb 'Killed By US Drone'
An al-Qaida leader believed to be responsible for the 2008 Marriott hotel bombing in Islamabad and the deadly attack on a bus carrying Sri Lanka’s cricket team in 2009 has been killed by a US air strike, the Pentagon claims. The drone attack on Qari Yasin, “a well-known terrorist leader” with ties to the Pakistan Taliban, took place on 19 March in Paktika province, the Pentagon said in a statement. “The death of Qari Yasin is evidence that terrorists who defame Islam and deliberately target innocent people will not escape justice,” US defense secretary Jim Mattis said in the statement. Telegraph

UN Appalled At Killing Of Aid Workers In South Sudan
Six aid workers from a national non-governmental organization were killed when their convoy was ambushed yesterday while travelling along the Government-controlled area on the Juba-Pibor road, the United Nations mission in the country (UNMISS) has said. Their bodies were found on the road by others members of the convoy who were some way behind. “The United Nations condemns this appalling and pointless loss of life,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan and the head of UNMISS, David Shearer in a news release issued by the mission. UN News

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