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NEWS   TUESDAY, MAY 31, 2016   NEWS

Obama’s Numbers Better Read On 2016 Than Clinton-Trump Polls
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are running neck-and-neck in the polls, but Clinton’s chances look much stronger based another set of numbers: President Barack Obama’s approval ratings. A president’s popularity, combined with strong U.S. economic data, historically have proven better predictors than horse-race polls this far from the general election. “Elections are a choice but a lot of that choice is about whether or not people want to stay the course,” said Christopher Wlezien, a University of Texas political science professor who co-authored a book on how voters’ presidential preferences evolve over a campaign.  Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: The Obama poll numbers are liberal media distortion - He is not popular.

White House Placed On Lockdown After Object Thrown Over Gate
The White House has been placed on lockdown after a woman threw something over the north fence along Pennsylvania Avenue. Reporters were not allowed to venture out of the White House press room and a call to the Secret Service was not immediately returned. However, a woman was detained. She was placed in handcuffs. Fire trucks and a hazardous materials response unit were called to the scene. It is common for officers to sweep the grounds after such incidents to ensure nothing dangerous was thrown over the fence. The lockdown ensued shortly after President Barack Obama returned from delivering a Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery. Fox News

Eric Holder Says Edward Snowden Performed A 'Public Service'
The Axe Files, featuring David Axelrod, is a podcast distributed by CNN and produced at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The author works at the institute. Chicago (CNN)Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says Edward Snowden performed a "public service" by triggering a debate over surveillance techniques, but still must pay a penalty for illegally leaking a trove of classified intelligence documents. "We can certainly argue about the way in which Snowden did what he did, but I think that he actually performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made," Holder told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files," a podcast produced by CNN and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. "Now I would say that doing what he did -- and the way he did it -- was inappropriate and illegal," Holder added. CNN

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Alibaba Tells Vendors To Halt Drug Sales Online, Cites Government Rule Change
Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has told vendors on its Tmall website to stop selling medicine, saying a local regulator has issued an "urgent" directive halting drug sales via third-party platforms. Alibaba, in a notice dated May 27 seen by Reuters, cited a circular from the Hebei province branch of the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) on "urgent control measures relating to drug products". It did not elaborate on reasons. The regulator's surprise directive comes as the government promotes retail sales of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, with a pledge to harness technology to solve issues as varied as high drug prices and snarling hospital queues. At present, drug sales are dominated by public hospitals. Reuters

Verizon, Unions Agree To Pay Raises, New Jobs To End Strike
An agreement between Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and unions potentially ending a nearly seven-week strike includes 1,400 new jobs and pay raises topping 10 percent, the company and unions representing about 40,000 workers said on Monday. Verizon, the No. 1 U.S. wireless provider, and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) had reached a tentative deal on Friday. Details for the new four-year contract were disclosed on Monday. The CWA said Verizon agreed to provide a 10.9 percent raise over four years while Verizon put the increase at 10.5 percent. According to the CWA, both numbers are correct, with the calculation done by the union including compounded interest that workers would receive as subsequent raises are determined from a new base salary. Reuters

Fed's Bullard says global markets seem well-prepared for summer rate hike
St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said on Monday global markets appear to be "well-prepared" for a summer interest rate hike from the Fed, although he did not specify a date for the policy move. "My sense is that markets are well-prepared for a possible rate increase globally, and that this is not too surprising given our liftoff from December and the policy of the committee which has been to try to normalize rates slowly and gradually over time," Bullard told a news conference after speaking at an academic conference in Seoul. "So my ideal is that if all goes well this will come off very smoothly." Bullard added a rebound in U.S. GDP growth seems to be materializing in the second quarter, but reserved his opinion on whether the Fed should hike in June or July for the next policy meeting at the U.S. central bank. MSNBC

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Ready Or Not, Republicans Prepare For Standard-Bearer Trump
Marco Rubio not so long ago insulted Donald Trump's tan, made crude insinuations about his anatomy, and dubbed him a "con man" and "the most vulgar person ever to aspire to the presidency." Yet days after Trump clinched enough delegates to become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, the Florida senator said he would speak on the billionaire's behalf if asked, and would release his delegates to Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. "I think that the Republican voter is coalescing around Donald," Rubio said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union,'' praising the unconventional candidate as "the ultimate change agent." Bloomberg

Trump’s Movement Campaign Likely To Turn On The Margins
Donald Trump calls his presidential campaign a mass movement, but he must show he can coax enough support from voters who twice delivered the White House to Barack Obama. The billionaire businessman depended almost exclusively on conservative and GOP-leaning whites — a majority of them men — to secure the Republican nomination. Now he must look ahead to a wider, more diverse voting population in his likely general election matchup with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. His ability to seize on marginal shifts in the electorate may determine whether he can pull off a victory once unthinkable. Trump's task is critical to flipping back into the GOP column some of the most contested states that Obama won twice. Las Vegas Sun

Iraq Starts Operation To Retake Fallujah From Islamic State
Iraqi forces entered Fallujah on Monday in their quest to retake the city from the Islamic State. Government troops begin their attack from the south side of the city and had "notable progress," Lt. Gen. Abdul Wahab al-Saaidi said to Sumariyah News. "Security forces from the counter-terrorism and army and ... Anbar police units began at dawn this morning a wide-scale military operation to breach the center of Fallujah city," Saaidi said. The city includes an estimated 50,000 civilians. Ground forces were backed by air support from the Iraqis and U.S.-led coalition. UPI News

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Obama Marks Memorial Day At Arlington National Cemetery
President Barack Obama laid a wreath Monday at the Tomb of the Unknowns to honor members of the military who died serving their country. Obama's appearance at Arlington National Cemetery carries on a longstanding presidential tradition and comes as the U.S. struggles to end various conflicts in the Middle East. In his remarks, Obama called for Americans to honor the fallen by caring for those they leave behind — their families and their battle buddies who come home. "We need to be there not just when we need them, but when they need us," Obama said of the nation's veterans. Obama said 20 members of the armed forces had died in combat within the last year. Special operations forces continue to serve in dangerous missions in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, even as the U.S. military presence in the latter two countries has been greatly reduced under Obama's watch. CNS News

Flood-Hit Texas And Plains Set For Winds, Hail And Possible Tornadoes
Strong winds, large hail and even possible tornadoes were forecast for Texas and the Plains on Monday, after at least seven people died during a weekend of heavy flooding. Rescuers were expected to continue searching for at least two people swept away by rising floodwaters in Texas and Kansas. Seven bodies have already been recovered in Texas since Friday after days of torrential rain. Meteorologists said Monday would bring little respite. MSNBC

Incumbents In GOP Tepid On Trump
There are signs that the “ostrich effect” is spreading inside the halls of Congress, where Senate Republicans running for re-election in tight races are putting distance between themselves and Donald Trump — with some wary of even mentioning his name. While rank-and-file voters are lining up behind Mr. Trump, some conservative pundits, party leaders and members of Congress just aren’t there, saying they can’t square the billionaire businessman’s controversial rhetoric and personal attacks on the campaign trail. Some senators in tight re-election races don’t stop for Trump-related questions. Washington Times

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Computer Crash Leaves Hundreds Stranded At New York's Kennedy Airport
A computer outage left hundreds of international travelers stranded at New York's Kennedy Airport Sunday. A Port Authority spokesperson said a Verizon Wireless server crashed at around 4 p.m. local time, disrupting Wi-Fi service in the airport's Terminal 7. The terminal is operated by British Airways, which leases space to other airlines, including Iberia, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas. The outage meant that airline agents were forced to scrap their usual check-in procedures and handwrite boarding passes and baggage claim tickets. As of late Sunday, approximately 1,200 people were waiting to be checked into nine flights scheduled to take off between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m., according to PIX 11. Fox News

Firing Up The Grill? Look For This On The Label Of Your Steak
A new label on some of the steaks in your grocery store highlights a production process you may have never heard of: mechanical tenderizing. This means the beef has been punctured with blades or needles to break down the muscle fibers and make it easier to chew. But it also means the meat has a greater chance of being contaminated and making you sick. "Blade tenderized," that label might read, followed by safe cooking instructions: "Cook until steak reaches an internal temperature of 145°F as measured by a food thermometer and allow to rest for 3 minutes." CNN

Japan On Alert After Threat Of Potential North Korean Missile Launch
Japan’s military has been put on alert, and ordered to prepare to intercept a possible North Korean missile, a government source told Japan’s Kyodo News. Japan's Defense Minister Gen Nakatani gave the order amid signs that Pyongyang may go ahead with a ballistic missile launch. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air guided interceptors in central Tokyo were readied as a response to Nakatani's order, and surveillance activities were also stepped up. A separate government source today told Kyodo News that the Japanese have received indications that Pyongyang is preparing to launch a ballistic missile, possibly an intermediate-range Musudan missile, in the eastern part of North Korea facing the Sea of Japan. ABC

Suicide Of Zurich Insurance Executive Martin Senn Announced
Swiss police are investigating the apparent suicide of former Zurich Insurance Group CEO Martin Senn, officials said Monday. Senn, 59, resigned from the company in December, citing the company's business setbacks under his direction. A spokesman for the police in Switzerland's Graubunden canton, where Senn had a vacation home, confirmed the death; Senn's family reported it as suicide. His death follows, by three years, the suicide of Pierre Wauthier, 53, Zurich Insurance Group's former chief financial officer. Wauthier left behind a note mentioning internal tensions within the company, and undue pressure placed on him by then-chairman Josef Ackermann. A probe by Swiss financial regulators cleared company leaders of placing inordinate stress on Wauthier, but Ackermann resigned shortly after the suicide. UPI News

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Hillary Clinton Camp Now Begging For Donations To Stop Donald Trump
Faced with sagging fundraising numbers, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign admitted it was wrong in assuming GOP nominee Donald Trump couldn’t possibly win a general election contest, and that it needs a cash infusion to move beyond a bruising primary and take on the mogul. Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told supporters in an email that the campaign took for granted that donations would pick up once a Clinton-versus-Trump November matchup became certain. Instead, the campaign says fundraising numbers in May have dropped, and the Clinton operation’s assumption that voters would reject Mr. Trump have been proven wrong. Washington Times

Mitch McConnell Has Some Advice For Donald Trump
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered some advice Monday for the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. In an interview on "CBS This Morning," the Kentucky Republican was asked what he would like to see Donald Trump do differently as the 2016 race shifts toward the general election. "I'd like to see a more studious approach," said McConnell, who suggested that Trump should use prepared texts more to deliver speeches instead of delivering them off-the-cuff. CBS

Donald Trump Promises Accounting Of Donations For Vets Fundraiser Tuesday
Donald Trump is expected to provide a full accounting of the Trump Foundation's donations to veterans' groups on Tuesday. He told a Washington rally that an announcement about the donations would be made Tuesday, after telling reporters in North Dakota last week that there would be a news conference Tuesday morning. The presumptive GOP nominee is expected to clear up how much the campaign raised in January at a veterans' fundraiser it organized when he skipped a GOP presidential debate. After the Washington Post pressed Trump to clarify how much has been given to veterans' groups from that event, the billionaire businessman fulfilled his promise to give $1 million of his own money to a charity for veterans. CBS

2 in Critical Condition After Electrically Shocked in Swimming Pools This Weekend
The electrical shocking of two people while swimming in outdoor pools this weekend has brought attention to potential safety risks that could arise this summer. An 8-year-old girl from Pennsylvania and a 34-year-old man from New Jersey are both in critical condition after suffering electrical shocks in outdoor pools this weekend, according to local police. On Saturday, the 34-year-old man was shocked while swimming at the pool of the Aztec Motel in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, according to Detective Sergeant Edward Gorski of the Wildwood Crest Police Department. The man remains in critical condition at the Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia. ABC

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Normalization Talks With Turkey Advancing
Turkish and Israeli officials plan to hold more meeting toward the restoration of high level diplomatic ties, he told reporters after a cabinet meeting. Two out of Ankara’s three conditions for restoring fully normalized ties with Israel have been met, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday. Turkish and Israeli officials plan to hold more meeting toward the restoration of high level diplomatic ties, he told reporters after a cabinet meeting. The two sides remain at odds over Israeli restrictions on the flow of goods into Gaza as well as the IDF’s aerial and naval blockade of the Strip. Ankara is insisting that Israel lift all of its restrictions on Gaza, including the military blockade. Israel has refused to cede to this request. Jerusalem and Ankara lowered the level of their diplomatic ties in 2010 after the IDF halted a Gaza bound flotilla intent on breaking Israel’s naval blockade. Jerusalem Post

Ya'alon Hints At Fundraising For New Party In Letter
Former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon gave an impression that he is already on the way to making a political comeback in a letter he wrote his past campaign contributors in English that was obtained by The Jerusalem Post. Ya'alon resigned on May 20 to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to replace him with Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman. In the letter he expressed some of the same frustration with the current state of Likud that he exhibited in his speech when he announced his resignation. "I entered politics out of a sense of commitment to the State of Israel and its security and for this reason I am not considering quitting the public or political arena," he wrote his donors. "I regard this period as a "time-out" after which I intend to return and run for Israel's national leadership."  Jerusalem Post

Syria Conflict: Chief Opposition Negotiator Resigns
The chief negotiator of Syria's main opposition umbrella group, Mohammed Alloush, has resigned over what he called the failure of peace talks. Mr Alloush, from the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), said the talks had not brought a political deal or eased the plight of Syrians in besieged areas. The HNC suspended its involvement in the UN-brokered "proximity" negotiations with a Syrian government delegation in Geneva in April. No date has been set for a resumption. "The three rounds of talks were unsuccessful because of the stubbornness of the regime and its continued bombardments and aggressions against the Syrian people," Mr Alloush said. BBC

Australia To Sell £8m Of Seized Bitcoins
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, has said family planning and contraception are not for Muslim families – the latest in a series of comments promoting population growth that have angered women’s activists. Erdogan said it was the responsibility of mothers to ensure the continued growth of Turkey’s population, which has expanded at a rate of around 1.3% in the past few years. “I will say it clearly … We need to increase the number of our descendants,” he said in a speech in Istanbul. “People talk about birth control, about family planning. No Muslim family can understand and accept that. As God and as the great prophet said, we will go this way. And in this respect the first duty belongs to mothers.” Guardian

The Pragmatic Progressive: What Sets Obama Apart From Bernie Sanders
On an afternoon in early December, a crowd packed into a high school gymnasium in Kansas. They were there to hear what would come to be seen as a seminal address on the state of the American economy and the role of government in levelling the playing field for all. Inequality, they were told, “distorts our democracy”. “It gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions, and it runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder. It leaves everyone else rightly suspicious that the system in Washington is rigged against them, that our elected representatives aren’t looking out for the interests of most Americans.” Guardian

US Military Face Drinking Ban And Curfew In Okinawa After Murder Of Local Woman
Tens of thousands of American military personnel stationed in southern Japan’s Okinawa region have been banned from drinking away from US bases following the arrest of a former marine suspected of murdering a local woman. US military officials have reportedly imposed a  midnight curfew plus the drinking ban as well as cancelling all celebrations, festivals and parties until June 24. The move, which officials have called a “period of unity and mourning”, follows widespread calls for stronger disciplinary regulations among the 30,000 US service workers based in Okinawa. Telegraph

Ken Clarke: Boris Johnson Is Just A 'Nicer Donald Trump'
Boris Johnson is just a "nicer version of Donald Trump", the former Tory chancellor Ken Clarke has said as he accused rebels backing a leadership coup of distracting from the referendum.  Mr Clarke branded backbench Conservatives who went public with calls for a no confidence vote in the Prime Minister “completely unhelpful” during a radio interview on Monday.  He also claimed the Out campaign of pushing a “leadership bid” for Mr Johnson and said the former London mayor should “go away for a bit” after the campaign. Telegraph

UN Children's Agency 'Alarmed' At Refugee And Migrant Deaths In The Mediterranean
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has expressed alarm at the number of migrant and refugee deaths in the past week in the Central Mediterranean, many of whom were believed to be unaccompanied minors. In anticipation of a major summer upswing of child migrants using the dangerous crossing between Libya and Italy UNICEF will shortly begin an operation with the Italian Government and partners to provide protection support, the agency said yesterday in a press release. The agency noted the vast majority of children using the crossing are unaccompanied adolescents and they have faced appalling abuses, exploitation and the possibility of death at every step of their journey. UN News

'Let Us Work Together To Foster Education For Global Citizenship,' Ban Tells UN Conference
The sixty-sixth United Nations Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organizations Conference kicked off today in Gyeongju, Republic of Korea, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighting the vital role that NGOs, academia and youth play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “We need governments, the private sector and civil society,” Mr. Ban told the more than 2,000 people gathered for the opening session. “Without the participation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society groups, no initiative, however visionary, can be fully achieved,” he added. UN News
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