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NEWS   WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER  18, 2017   NEWS

Trump warns McCain. 'At some point, I fight back. And it won't be pretty'
Arizona Senator John McCain called isolationist politics 'half-baked, spurious nationalism,' and said abandoning America's role as a world leader would be 'unpatriotic.' McCain was honored with the National Constitution Center Liberty Medal. President Trump said Sen. John McCain should "be careful" because "at some point, I fight back," after the Arizona Republican warned against "half-baked, spurious nationalism" in a speech Monday night. USA Today
VOA VIEW: A dumb fight for both.

Trump plans massive increase in federal immigration jails
The Trump administration is planning an increase in federal immigration jails across the country for the thousands of additional undocumented immigrants its agents are arresting. In recent weeks, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has put out requests to identify privately-run jail sites in Chicago, Detroit, St. Paul, Salt Lake City and southern Texas, according to notices published on a federal contracting website. It did not publicly announce its plans to house 4,000 more detainees at the facilities. The detention expansion would represent the latest step in President Trump's efforts to crack down on illegal immigration. From Jan. 22 through Sept. 9, the agency arrested 97,482 people suspected of being in the country illegally, a 43% increase over the same time period in 2016 under President Barack Obama, according to the latest ICE figures. During the same span, ICE arrested 28,011 undocumented immigrants without a criminal record, a 179% increase from the same period in 2016, when the Obama administration mainly went after those who committed serious offenses. USA Today
VOA VIEW: A good start.

Scott Pruitt suggests he will restrict scientists who get EPA grants from advising the agency
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt hinted Tuesday at plans to rid the agency’s scientific advisory boards of researchers who get EPA grants, arguing that the current structure raises questions about their independence. “What’s most important at the agency is to have scientific advisers that are objective, independent-minded, providing transparent recommendations,” Pruitt told an audience at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “If we have individuals who are on those boards, sometimes receiving money from the agency … that to me causes questions on the independence and the veracity and the transparency of those recommendations that are coming our way.”  Pruitt promised to “fix that” in a directive he plans to issue next week. It remained unclear Tuesday what such a directive would say. The EPA declined further comment. Washington Post

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Special counsel Mueller's team talks to Spicer
Special counsel Robert Mueller's team interviewed former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, unnamed sources with knowledge of the meeting said Tuesday.  A source told Politico the team questioned Spicer about FBI Director James Comey's firing, statements Spicer made about the firing and President Donald Trump's meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the White House. Mueller is investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, the firing of Comey as well as a statement Trump made about Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a lawyer at one time linked to the Russian government. UPI
VOA VIEW: Mueller is a waste on taxpayer money.

Trump pushes tax reform in speech to Heritage Foundation
President Donald Trump spokes at the Heritage Foundation's President's Club Meeting in Washington, D.C. Tuesday night and touted his tax reform plan to the conservative think tank. Trump called for a corporate tax cut from the current 35 percent rate "all the way down to not more than 20 percent. The president also said his tax reform plan will provide tax relief for middle class Americans and he wants the tax code to be simplified enough that families will be able to do their taxes on a single sheet of paper. UPI

White House slams decision to block travel ban
The White House is blasting a federal judge's decision to block the Trump administration from enforcing the latest version its travel ban, calling the order "dangerously flawed." White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the Hawaii decision "undercuts the president's efforts to keep the American people safe and enforce minimum security standards for entry into the United States." In a separate statement, Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior says it will appeal the ruling "in an expeditious manner." The restrictions had been set to go into effect early Wednesday. They were to apply to citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen — and some Venezuelan government officials and their families. Sanders says the restrictions are "vital" to ensuring foreign nations comply with U.S. security standards. Fox New
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Showrunner alleges sexual harassment by Bob Weinstein
Spike network is investigating reports of sexual harassment by the brother of disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein against the female showrunner of a series produced by The Weinstein Co. and aired on Spike. Amanda Segel, a former executive producer of the sci-fi series "The Mist," claims Bob Weinstein made repeated overtures to her that included invitations to dinner, to his home and to a hotel room, according to a story published Tuesday by Variety. News of the investigation came the day after Oscar winners Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Lawrence joined the list of actresses saying they have been the victims of assault and harassment at the hands of directors and producers and pledged to do more to stop such situations from happening. Houston Chroncile

Chicago fires 2 security officers in United Airlines passenger dragging case
The Chicago Department of Aviation has fired two security officers who were involved in an incident in which a passenger was dragged off a United Airlines flight after he refused to give up his seat. Officials say one of those officers, a sergeant, was part of an attempt to cover up details of the incident that happened in April at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Four officers were involved in the incident related to passenger David Dao, who had been aboard a flight to Louisville, Kentucky. The department suspended the two other officers, and one of those officers resigned. CBS

Southern California fire partially contained
Firefighters have managed to partially corral a wildfire near Los Angeles that forced the evacuation of an historic observatory. The blaze on Mount Wilson was 25 percent contained as of Tuesday night. Several hundred firefighters planned to work through the night battling the fire, which broke out before dawn. Mount Wilson Observatory near the mountain peak was evacuated earlier in the day. The 30-acre blaze also threatened TV broadcast and other communications towers northeast of Los Angeles. No homes are in immediate danger. Las Vegas Sun

North Korea says 'a nuclear war may break out any moment'
North Korea's deputy U.N. ambassador warned Monday that the situation on the Korean peninsula "has reached the touch-and-go point and a nuclear war may break out any moment." Kim In Ryong told the U.N. General Assembly's disarmament committee that North Korea is the only country in the world that has been subjected to "such an extreme and direct nuclear threat" from the United States since the 1970s — and said the country has the right to possess nuclear weapons in self-defense. He pointed to large-scale military exercises every year using "nuclear assets" and said what is more dangerous is what he called a U.S. plan to stage a "secret operation aimed at the removal of our supreme leadership." This year, Kim said, North Korea completed its "state nuclear force and thus became the full-fledged nuclear power which possesses the delivery means of various ranges, including the atomic bomb, H-bomb and intercontinental ballistic rockets." ABC
VOA VIEW: North Korea is a nut job - he must go.

Kentucky city begins moving 2 Confederate statues
Kentucky's second largest city has begun moving statutes of two Confederate statues.  The Lexington Herald Leader reports that the surprise move Tuesday evening came after the state attorney general issued a legal opinion that the Kentucky Military Heritage Commission does not have the jurisdiction to block the statues' removal.
The Lexington Fayette-Urban County Council voted in August to move the statues honoring Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckinridge, a U.S. vice president and Confederate secretary of war, from outside a former courthouse. Police began blocking off the area on Tuesday evening to allow crane equipment to move into place. The statues are being  moved into storage while the city works out an agreement to move them to Lexington Cemetery where Breckenridge and Morgan are buried. Las Vegas Sun

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Metrorail needs federal money to expand. Trump’s transit chief
Expanding Metrorail largely depends on Washington contributing hundreds of millions of dollars in transit aid, making U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao the key player in the ongoing drama over how to fix Miami’s gridlock woes. On Tuesday, she called a press conference in Miami and deftly avoided providing any good news.  “Resources are an issue. It’s a resource issue for all of us,” Chao said during a press conference at Miami International Airport, flanked by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Mario Diaz-Balart, the Republican congressman pleading with county leaders to help him secure federal rail dollars. “From the whole country’s point of view, the needs exceed the resources.” Miami Herald

University of Florida Braces for Richard Spencer
Richard B. Spencer, a prominent white nationalist, is scheduled to speak at the University of Florida on Thursday, prompting an outcry over whether his views are protected speech, dividing the campus and putting law enforcement officials on high alert. The university denied Mr. Spencer’s original request to speak on Sept. 12, citing the violent clashes in August between far-right demonstrators and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Va., as well as threats on social media of a “blood bath” if the speech were allowed. But the university has since relented.  On Monday, reacting to Mr. Spencer’s coming appearance, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in Alachua County in North Florida, where the university is. The order helps coordinate law enforcement from various jurisdictions. The governor also activated the National Guard, so it can be called if necessary. NY Times
VOA VIEW: Free speech is free speech - like or not, good or bad.

NEWS CORP., YAHOO! IN CROSS-MARKETING DEAL
News Corp. and Internet giant Yahoo! have scored a major new cross-marketing program designed to increase both companies’ brand names. The new cross-media and marketing deal will kick off Super Bowl Sunday, with spots promoting Yahoo! to air in the pre- and post-game show. Yahoo! will promote its brand on Fox’s network and cable TV entities and will extend its efforts to other News Corp. businesses, including Twentieth Century Fox Film, Fox Music and Fox Interactive. News Corp. also owns The Post. Fox will be able to take advantage of Yahoo!’s high traffic numbers to direct traffic to its own websites. Yahoo! will get the last spot before Sunday’s kickoff and is also the sponsor of “Family Guy,” which makes its debut on Fox after the big game. NY Post

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Las Vegas gunman's estate could offer rare redress for victims
Victims of mass shootings in the United States often win little or no damages from perpetrators but the Las Vegas massacre may be different because the shooter is thought to have been a wealthy man, lawyers said.  While there are often few assets to collect from the young men who typically carry out these killings, Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, 64, is thought to have had multi-million-dollar investments in buildings across Texas and California. Paddocks’s estate has become a target for claimants in a case where victims and their families face an uphill battle holding liable the hotel and musical festival where the shooting rampage took place.Reuters

McCain endorses budget bill in win for GOP tax plan
Senate Republicans desperate to pass tax cuts as a way to salvage their deadlocked legislative agenda earned a series of much-needed victories Tuesday, raising GOP hopes of approving legislation this week that will lay the groundwork for rate cuts later. As President Donald Trump prepared to promote tax reform in a speech Tuesday night, Senate Republicans won over a key holdout on the budget resolution, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and welcomed back Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., whose absence due to illness had threatened to derail the bill. "I support the Senate budget resolution because it provides a path forward on tax reform," McCain said in a statement. "I have long supported efforts to fix our burdensome tax system and hope Congress will produce meaningful reform that simplifies the tax code, strengthens America's middle class and boosts our economy." Sun-Sentinel
VOA VIEW: Time will tell.

'Free heroin' sign at Speedway gas station stirs controversy
Preliminary reports from the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office indicated there have been 512 accidental overdose deaths so far in 2017. It’s not clear how many of those accidental overdose deaths are directly contributed to heroin. Dayton and Montgomery County have been plagued by heroin-related deaths for several years.AJC
 
Trump backs off support of deal continuing Obamacare subsidies
Republican and Democratic senators joined in announcing a plan Tuesday aimed at stabilizing America's health insurance markets in the wake of President Trump's order to terminate "Obamacare" subsidies. The president, at first, spoke approvingly of the deal, but as conservatives rebelled, the White House insisted Mr. Trump actually opposed the plan as a bailout of insurance companies. The agreement followed weeks of negotiations between Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington that sought to address health insurance markets that have been in limbo following GOP failures to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The talks took on added urgency when Mr. Trump announced last week that he would end monthly "cost sharing reduction" payments the government makes to help insurance companies reduce costs for lower-income people. CBS
VOA VIEW: Liberal propaganda.

FBI asked to probe killing of black man by Utah police
A Utah prosecutor asked the FBI on Tuesday to investigate a police shooting that left a black man dead when he ran from officers who stopped him after he rode his bike across six lanes of traffic and they noticed he didn't have a required rear light.  The request to the FBI came after an outcry from the family of Patrick Harmon and anti-police brutality groups about a decision last week not to file criminal charges.  Harmon's sister Antoinette Harmon said she appreciated the request for the FBI investigation but also wants Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and Salt Lake City police Officer Clinton Fox removed from their posts. Fox shot Patrick Harmon. Gill found that slowed-down video indicates that Harmon turned toward officers and that he was struck on the side of his body. Fox told investigators he was terrified after Harmon threatened him with a knife. A knife isn't discernable in the video, but investigators say they found one at the scene. ABC

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Senators strike deal to save Obamacare payments as insurers push to raise rates
States and insurance companies scrambled to raise premiums for insurance plans sold on the Affordable Care Act exchanges -- even as Senate leaders reached a deal on Tuesday that would fund the subsidies in the short term. The subsidies, called cost-sharing reductions - or CSRs - are federal payments to insurers that are used to offset deductibles and other out-of-pocket health costs for lower-income Americans. In many states, insurance companies had already priced in a possible end of CSRs to their rate requests, anticipating President Donald Trump's move. In others, however, regulators explicitly asked companies to assume that the payments would be made - or gave little direction, leaving some insurance companies pushing for higher rates at the last minute. SF Chroncile

Parent who complained about ‘Mockingbird’ speaks out at school board meeting
Yolanda Williams and her mother, Jessica Williams, told the Biloxi School Board on Tuesday evening that it wasn’t just “To Kill A Mockingbird” that was offensive about the curriculum for the eighth grade but other things, including the study of ammunition used in the Civil War. The two women complained to the school after Yolanda’s child was assigned to read “To Kill a Mockingbird” and students were using a racial slur in the classroom. Yolanda Williams said she found out that students were saying the N-word and laughing in the classroom, and it was offensive. Sun Herald
VOA VIEW: Political correctness is going to far.

Vegas hotel security guard's disappearance draws attention
The cancellation of scheduled TV interviews last week by a hotel security guard wounded by the Las Vegas shooter raised questions Tuesday about the location of a key witness to the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history. Jesus Campos "wants to tell his story at a time and place of his choosing," MGM Resorts International spokeswoman Debra DeShong said in response to questions from The Associated Press about Campos' whereabouts. "He's asked that everyone respect his request for privacy." The company said Campos is on paid leave from his job at the Mandalay Bay resort, where he has worked since February 2015. The statement didn't say where Campos is. ABC News

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North Korea says it plans to launch many more satellites
North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador says the country plans to launch many more satellites and is accusing the United States of trying to block its efforts to help achieve the peaceful development of outer space. Kim In Ryong told a U.N. General Assembly committee meeting Tuesday on “International Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space” that the country’s five-year plan for 2016-2020 includes development of “practical satellites that can contribute to the economic development and improvement of the people’s living.” Kim said North Korea is a party to several space treaties and its space development activities are “all ground on legal basis in all aspects.” Seattle Times
VOA VIEW: Un is nuts and short lived.

Xi says China’s prospects are bright but challenges severe
Chinese President Xi Jinping trumpeted his nation’s prospects as bright but made a rare acknowledgement of severe economic challenges as he opened the Communist Party’s twice-a-decade national congress on Wednesday. Other Chinese leaders have regularly warned since the 2008 financial crisis that China’s economic growth faces “downward pressure” due to weak global demand that threatens export industries in the world’s second-largest economy. But Xi’s comments were unusual in a keynote speech meant to highlight the party’s confidence and long-range vision. In his speech, he also hailed China’s island-building efforts in the disputed South China Sea as well as his signature foreign policy initiative, the “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure investment project aimed at improving connections between China, Europe and Africa. Seattle Times

Trump 'insensitive' to soldier's widow, lawmaker says
In an interview with CNN, Ms Wilson said Mr Trump's call happened shortly before Sgt Johnson's casket arrived in Miami: "Basically he said, 'Well, I guess he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt'." The Democrat congresswoman said she listened to part of the conversation on speaker phone.  Talking to ABC News affiliate WPLG, Ms Wilson added: "Yeah, he said that. To me that's something that you can say in a conversation, but you shouldn't say that to a grieving widow. "And everyone knows when you go to war, you could possibly not come back alive. But you don't remind a grieving widow of that. That's so insensitive." The full context of the remarks are not known. Ms Wilson said that when she asked Ms Johnson about the exchange, she said she could not remember. BBC
VOA VIEW: Wilson is a foolish woman who is trying to benefit by the sad death.

What was life like in Syria's Raqqah, the fallen capital of Islamic State's 'caliphate'?
Before it fell under the sway of Islamic State in January 2014, the Syrian crossroads city of Raqqah, on the northern banks of the Euphrates River in historic Mesopotamia, had lived out a richly layered past under a succession of empires. Down through the centuries, it was an Ottoman trading post, a desert garrison and a cotton-rich commercial capital, known for gentler arts like its classic blue-glazed ceramics. Under the militants’ rule, Raqqawis — as the people of what was once Syria’s sixth-largest city are called — lived in terror of floggings, beheadings, and a pervasive network of Islamic State spies eager to sniff out any sign of resistance to the militant group’s imposition of stringent sharia law. Seemingly minor infractions — smoking, a man wearing too-long pants or a too-short beard, a woman failing to completely cover her face in public — could lead to harsh punishment. Sun-Sentinel

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