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NEWS     FRIDAY,  NOVEMBER   16, 2018    NEWS

Scot Peterson, Parkland deputy who didn't enter school during shooting, doesn't show for investigative panel
Scot Peterson, the disgraced Broward County sheriff's deputy who did not confront Nikolas Cruz as he opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in February, declined on Thursday to testify before a public safety commission investigating the massacre. Peterson, 55, would've been asked why he didn't enter the Parkland, Florida school building where 17 people were killed in one of the largest mass shootings in modern U.S. history. The school resource officer's attorney, Joseph DiRuzzo, instead appeared before the commission. He told them that earlier Thursday he filed a lawsuit to stop the 14-member panel's subpoena. Nikolas Cruz, the confessed Parkland shooter, registered to vote while in jail. The news enraged one victim’s father.  Fox

Trump Jr.'s India business trip cost US government nearly $100K
A family business trip to India by President Donald Trump's eldest son cost taxpayers nearly $100,000, The Washington Post reported Thursday. The Post report, citing government documents, showed Donald Trump Jr.'s Secret Service protection racked up $97,805 in bills for the February trip to New Dehli, Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata, where there are Trump-licensed luxury high-rises. The report also noted a review last year had pegged the government's price tag for a trip by son Eric Trump to Uruguay at $97,830. As noted in the report, Trump Jr. had previously requested to scale back Secret Service protection, which he is authorized, but not required, to have as a member of the President's family. CNN
VOA VIEW: What about the President not receiving his $400K salary?

Facebook goes on defensive over New York Times investigation
Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, have spent much of Thursday swinging back after a New York Times investigation published Wednesday suggested that the company had not been forthcoming enough about Russian interference on its platform and reported that it had hired a firm that dug up dirt on its competitors. Participating in a conference call with reporters Thursday that was meant to be about rules regarding how Facebook polices its platform, Zuckerberg instead had to focus mainly on the Times' story and reporters' questions about it. CNN
VOA VIEW: Facebook needs to be split up.


Palm Beach misses election recount deadline after machines stop working
Florida's already farcical recount was dealt yet another blow Thursday when Palm Beach County failed to meet a 3 p.m. deadline, with the election supervisor blaming faulty equipment. As a result of the county failing to make the deadline, the only one of Florida's 67, the numbers from the initial count, which were completed Saturday, will stand. The announcement came soon after a federal judge ruled that 5,000 voters whose mail-in ballots were rejected because of signature issues be given an additional two days to fix the problem. As the 3 p.m. deadline passed, Palm Beach Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher said her county “got stuck with some mechanical issues.” “It was a heroic effort and we just completed uploading our Saturday results, as was required by law,” Bucher said. “If we had three or four more hours, we might have made the time.”A manual recount of 5,900 over-votes and under-votes was will begin at 4 p.m. U.S. District Judge Mark Warner slammed state lawmakers and Palm Beach County officials for failing to anticipate election problems and said the state law on recounts appears to violate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that decided the presidency in 2000. Fox
VOA VIEW: The Dems won't concede.

Trump Fury: Mueller's 'Angry People'...'Don't Care How Many Lives (They) Ruin'
As speculation mounts about what Robert Mueller and his investigators are up to -almost two years into the Trump-Russia investigation -President Trump is drawing his own conclusions.  In two tweets on Thursday, he wrote: The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. They are a disgrace to our Nation and don’t care how many lives the (sic) ruin. These are Angry People, including the highly conflicted Bob Mueller, who worked for Obama for 8 years. They won’t even look at all of the bad acts and crimes on the other side. A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!  CNS

Trump: 'Did I hear the Word Bipartisan?...That's a Nice Word'
President Trump, meeting with lawmakers and members of various  law enforcement groups at the White House on Wednesday, expressed support for a bipartisan criminal justice legislation. He stressed the word "bipartisan." Working together with my administration over the last two years, these members have reached a bipartisan agreement. Did I heard the word “bipartisan”? Did I hear — did I hear that word? That’s a nice word. President Trump, meeting with lawmakers and members of various  law enforcement groups at the White House on Wednesday, expressed support for a bipartisan criminal justice legislation. CNS


US sanctions 17 Saudis allegedly implicated in Khashoggi murder
The Trump administration has sanctioned 17 Saudi officials for their alleged involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the first economic penalties from the U.S. over the brutal murder that has spawned a diplomatic crisis. The 17 individuals, the U.S said, are the 15-man hit squad that traveled to Turkey to carry out the operation, the Saudi consul general in Istanbul, Turkey, where the killing took place, and a senior adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It's the same list of people that the Saudis have blamed and arrested for the killing, which the Saudi government at first denied, then called an accident, before labeling it a rogue operation. The 17 were also among the 21 Saudi officials that the U.S. already revoked or banned U.S. visas for. ABC

Michael Avenatti speaks out after domestic violence arrest
Michael Avenatti, the attorney for adult film star Stormy Daniels, was arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of domestic violence, police said, but the lawyer maintains "I have never struck a woman." The incident took place Tuesday and Avenatti was arrested Wednesday, police said. Avenatti was booked at 3:44 p.m. local time Wednesday on suspicion of domestic violence with injuries, according to booking records obtained by ABC Station KABC. His bail was set at $50,000, the Los Angeles Police Department said. The case will be "presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney for prosecution," the LAPD said in a press release. Avenatti tweeted Thursday that he has "NOT been charged with anything, let alone a felony." ABC
VOA VIEW: Fake news - according to Avenatti.

Nancy Pelosi has a math problem in her race to be House speaker
Seventeen House Democrats and newly elected members have signed a letter vowing to vote against Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, which could leave the Democratic leader short of 218 votes she needs. Pelosi needs the support of 218 Democrats on the floor of the House when members elect a new speaker on January 3. Democrats currently control 228 seats with eight races still outstanding, according to the latest CBS News tally. The group opposing Pelosi has not yet released their letter, but the signers include 16 Democratic House lawmakers and representatives-elect. CBS
VOA VIEW: Pelosi may need some Republicans.

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Pro-Trump company selling Lego-like "Build the Wall" toy ahead of Christmas
The conservative lifestyle brand Keep and Bear is selling Lego-like "Build the wall" toy ahead of Christmas. A conservative website is selling a Lego-like toy set called "Build the Wall," which includes small building blocks meant to signify President's Trump's proposed border wall. The controversial toy is part of Keep and Bear's "MAGA" toy line that promotes pro-Trump messages. The company provided a politically-loaded description of the 101-piece toy set, starting off with the exaggerated claim that "A mob of 10,000 Central American migrants is marching through Mexico and heading toward El Paso, Texas."  CBS
VOA VIEW: A wall needs to be built.

After hurling criticism, Trump will visit California to assess wildfire damage
President Donald Trump is slated to visit California on Saturday to assess the damage of the deadly wildfires that have ravaged the state, the White House announced Thursday. The president's visit comes after he was excoriated for publicly scolding state officials on Twitter last Saturday and then blamed and threatened Californians, tweeting in part, "so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests." He added: "Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!" NBC

Text messages show Roger Stone and friend discussing WikiLeaks plans
Six days before WikiLeaks began releasing Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails, Roger Stone had a text message conversation with a friend about WikiLeaks, according to copies of phone records obtained exclusively by NBC News. “Big news Wednesday,” the Stone pal, radio host Randy Credico, wrote on Oct. 1, 2016, according to the text messages provided by Stone. “Now pretend u don’t know me.” “U died 5 years ago,” Stone replied. “Great,” Credico wrote back. “Hillary’s campaign will die this week.” Credico turned out to be wrong on one count — nothing incriminating about Clinton came out that Wednesday.  NBC


US mid-term election set record voter turnout
If Donald Trump has one undisputable achievement during the first two years of his presidency, it's that he has succeeded in increasing the political engagement of a large share of the American public. Preliminary figures for nationwide turnout in the 2018 mid-term elections are in, and they've reached a mark not seen in more than a century. Across the US, 49.2% of the voting age public cast ballots. In 2014 that number was 37%, and the average over the last few decades has hovered around 40%.
The last time turnout for a mid-term topped 50% was 1914 - before women had the vote in the US. In some states, the numbers were even higher. According to the United States Elections Project, 64.3% of eligible Minnesotans voted. BBC

Pentagon fails its first-ever audit, official says
The Pentagon has failed what is being called its first-ever comprehensive audit, a senior official said on Thursday, finding U.S. Defense Department accounting discrepancies that could take years to resolve. Results of the inspection - conducted by some 1,200 auditors and examining financial accounting on a wide range of spending including on weapons systems, military personnel and property - were expected to be completed later in the day. “We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it,” Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan told reporters, adding that the findings showed the need for greater discipline in financial matters within the Pentagon. Reuters
VOA VIEW: Pitiful!

North Korea state media says Kim inspects testing of 'tactical' weapon
North Korea’s state media said on Friday that leader Kim Jong Un had inspected a site testing a “high-tech tactical weapon”, South Korean Yonhap news service reported, the first mention by state media of a new development in weapons in months. North Korea’s Korea Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) did not say exactly what kind of weapon Kim inspected, but noted that the test was successful, Yonhap said. Reuters

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John Kerry: US 'cannot afford truculent child president'
America cannot afford “a truculent child president” if it is to fulfil its global leadership role, the former US secretary of state John Kerry said on Thursday as he lambasted Donald Trump for failing to attend a key Armistice Day commemoration ceremony in Paris at the weekend. Kerry is visiting the UK to promote his book and will be speaking at a Guardian Live event in London on Thursday night. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Kerry spoke of “a dearth of a leadership on a global basis” adding: “Every country is feeling the pressure of this nationalistic populist and in some cases very frightening rightwing advance.” He said: “I was appalled that rain drops prevented the president from going to pay honour to those that died in rain, gas, snow and mud. That was the reason he came to Paris.”Guardian

US civil rights agency decries Trump administration’s lax approach to police violence
America’s lead governmental civil rights body on Thursday issued a sharp rebuke to the Trump administration’s lax approach to police violence, recommending that the government “return to vigorous enforcement of constitutional policing”. The recommendations, from the US Commission on Civil Rights (CCR), came just a day after members of the American Public Health Association (APHA) took the unprecedented step of officially recognizing police violence as a “critical” public health issue. The national organization’s membership includes more than 25,000 public health professionals. Both bodies relied heavily on findings from the Guardian’s 2015-2016 special project The Counted, which tracked US fatalities at the hands of law enforcement, to reach their conclusions. Guardian

‘Make healthy choices’ urges UN agency, to prevent and manage chronic diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces, which leads to an increased concentration of glucose in the blood. Around 1.6 million deaths can be directly attributed to diabetes each year. “Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and lower limb amputation,” said WHO, noting that about 422 million adults have the disease – a number that has been increasing steadily over the last three decades.  UN

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DeSantis looks certain to win governor’s race; Senate contest goes to a manual recount
Ron DeSantis emerged from a machine recount Thursday all but certain to become Florida’s next governor while Gov. Rick Scott (R) maintained a narrow lead in the state’s closely watched Senate race even as that contest goes to a manual count. The Senate battle, in which Scott is seeking to unseat Sen. Bill Nelson (D), enters a phase reminiscent of the state’s 2000 presidential recount — in which local elections officials will examine tens of thousands of ballots that may not have been filled out or tallied correctly to assess voters’ intentions. The process was triggered because Scott’s lead, 12,603 votes out of more than 8 million cast, remained within the 0.25 percent legal threshold for a manual recount, which must be completed by noon Sunday. Washington Post
VOA VIEW: America wants the trauma over.

GOP leaders aim to avert shutdown over wall funding, but Trump makes no promises
President Trump did not commit Thursday to avoiding a partial government shutdown next month if lawmakers don’t give him money to build a border wall, a top Republican senator said, raising the potential for a high-stakes budget battle as the GOP prepares to lose its grip on Congress. Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby (Ala.) and other GOP leaders met with Trump on Thursday about ways to fund the government. Shelby said Trump did not commit to signing a bill that does not give him all the money he wants to fund construction of a wall along the Mexico border. Shelby said Trump was noncommittal about how he planned to proceed.
“He didn’t say, ‘I’m going to keep the government open.’ We didn’t ask him that question,” Shelby told reporters after returning from the White House. “We talked about avoiding a shutdown. .?.?. He seemed to agree with that.” Washington Post
VOA VIEW: Republicans better put up the wall funding.

Court filing hints at charges for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
The Justice Department inadvertently named Julian Assange in a court filing in an unrelated case, suggesting prosecutors have charged the WikiLeaks founder under seal. Assange’s name appears twice in an August court filing from a federal prosecutor in Virginia, who was attempting to keep sealed a separate case involving a man accused of coercing a minor for sex. Any charges against Assange could help illuminate the question of whether Russia coordinated with the Trump campaign to sway the 2016 presidential election. It would also suggest that, after years of internal wrangling within the Justice Department, prosecutors have decided to take a more aggressive tact against the secret-sharing website. USA Today

Homeless Samaritan tale raised $400K. Police say it’s a lie
A feel-good tale of a homeless man using his last $20 to help a stranded New Jersey woman buy gas was actually a complete lie, manufactured to get strangers to donate more than $400,000 to help the down-and-out good Samaritan, a prosecutor said Thursday. Burlington County prosecutor Scott Coffina announced criminal charges against the couple who told the story to newspapers and television stations along with the homeless man who conspired with them to tell the story. Coffina said the money, donated to homeless Marine veteran Johnny Bobbitt, will be refunded to people who saw the story and contributed to him through a GoFundMe page set up by the couple, Mark D’Amico and Katelyn McClure. Seattle Times

Elizabeth Warren protégé flips California House seat
Democrat Katie Porter flipped another congressional seat on Thursday as she was declared the winner of a tight race in California’s 45th District. Porter, a protégé of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, ousted two-term GOP incumbent, Rep. Mimi Walters, after late results showed her ahead by nearly 6,000 votes. “I’m proud of all of our incredible incoming Democratic House members, but I’m ESPECIALLY proud of our newest: my former student & research partner @katieporteroc!” Warren tweeted Thursday night. Walters, a former investment banker, was a supporter of President Trump’s effort to repeal Obamacare and the GOP tax plan.  New York Post

Trump angles to put loyalist in charge of House Judiciary Committee
President Trump has been pushing to put a loyal GOP lawmaker in charge of the House Judiciary Committee, which is expected to revive its Russia probe and launch new ones into the administration when Democrats take control in January. Trump has urged House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California to cut a deal with Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, founder of the conservative Freedom Caucus, who unsuccessfully challenged McCarthy for the minority leader’s post next Congress, Politico reported. It wasn’t clear what the deal would entail, but word of their talks sparked speculation among lawmakers that Trump may try to push Jordan to become the top Republican lawmaker on the Judiciary Committee so that he could mount a strong defense of the president, according to the website. New York Post

North Korea running low on TB meds, experts fear epidemic
The withdrawal of a major international aid organization threatens to leave tens of thousands of tuberculosis patients in North Korea without the medication they need and could spiral into a severe crisis if it is not addressed soon, according to health experts familiar with the situation in the North. The dwindling stockpile of crucial medications follows the abrupt departure of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an international aid organization whose grants to North Korea supported the treatment of 120,000 TB patients last year. Its support officially ended in June despite an outcry among health officials in North Korea and in the international community that it could spark a major epidemic. Houston Chronicle

Whitaker told Graham that Mueller probe to go on
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has told Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham in a meeting that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation will proceed, according to a person familiar with the meeting. The meeting with Graham and Whitaker Thursday comes as a bipartisan group of senators is pushing legislation to protect Mueller's job. The senators are concerned about Whitaker's past criticism of the Mueller probe, which is looking at Russian interference in the 2016 election and ties to President Donald Trump's campaign. Trump appointed Whitaker acting attorney general last week. Whitaker told Graham the investigation would be allowed to proceed, the person said. Houston Chronicle

California wildfires have already claimed 66 lives, with another 631 still missing
Search crews found seven more bodies in the burned out rubble of Paradise, California, on Thursday, and officials fear more deaths in the destructive blazes at both ends of the state that have now claimed 66 lives. The deadliest and most destructive of the two wildfires is the Camp Fire in Northern California's Butte County, which has killed at least 63 people. The seven bodies found Thursday were all as a result of the Camp Fire, officials said. There were more than 631 people missing in the Butte County fire zones on Thursday night, though officials were working to track them down. Butte County officials asked residents to go to the sheriff's website to check the missing persons list to make sure they are not on it.  ABC

Trump met with legal team over 3 days to discuss responses to questions from Mueller’s office: Sources
Over three days this week, President Donald Trump met with his legal team to discuss his written responses to special counsel Robert Mueller’s questions, sources told ABC News. The questions center on alleged Russian meddling during the 2016 election cycle, which Mueller is tasked with investigating. The nearly year and a half long probe by the special counsel stems from allegations that Russia may have coordinated with members of the Trump presidential campaign. Sources told ABC News the president was irritated with a handful of the questions — a sentiment his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani shared with the Washington Post. “There are some that create more issues for us legally than others,” Giuliani told the Washington Post.  ABC

Trump and Xi Likely to Get Only Framework Trade Deal
The U.S. still plans to raise tariffs on Chinese imports in January with President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping likely at best to agree to a “framework” for further talks to resolve trade tensions at an upcoming meeting, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said. The U.S. and China are now discussing the agenda for the two leaders’ meeting on the sidelines of the Nov. 30-Dec. 1 Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires and what a realistic outcome could be. Bloomberg

Theresa May vows to see Brexit plan through on day of turmoil
Theresa May pleaded with her party not to plunge Britain into “deep and grave uncertainty” by rejecting her Brexit deal, as she fought to shore up her authority after a bruising day of resignations and backbench mutiny. At a sombre press conference following a dramatic day of turmoil, the prime minister said she believed “with every fibre of my being” that the 585-page agreement unveiled on Wednesday night was “the right one for our country and all our people”. “If we do not move forward with that agreement, nobody can know for sure the consequences that will follow. It would be to take a path of deep and grave uncertainty when the British people just want us to get on with it,” she said. Guardian

Energy company takes stance against Trump effort to rollback mercury rule
A leading US energy company is lobbying against the Trump administration’s move to rollback a major Obama-era environmental regulation, arguing that weakening a
rule on mercury emissions would potentially kill jobs across the south and waste billions of dollars of investment. Exelon, one of the largest producers of electricity in the US, has also argued to the Environmental Protection Agency that compliance with the existing mercury rule, a 2012 regulation that limits how much of the toxic pollutant can be emitted from coal-fired power plants, has had “substantial” health and environmental benefits and has cost a small fraction of what was originally anticipated. e Guardian

Facebook Moves to Limit Toxic Content as Scandal Swirls
Mark Zuckerberg would like you to know that despite a scathing report in The New York Times, which depicts Facebook as a ruthless and selfish corporate behemoth, things are getting better—at least, the way he sees it. In a lengthy call with reporters Thursday, and an equally lengthy "note" published on Facebook, the company's CEO laid out a litany of changes Facebook is making, designed to curb toxic content on the platform and provide more transparency into the decisions on content. But perhaps the most consequential update is that the Facebook News Feed algorithm will now try to limit the spread of sensationalist content on the platform, which represents a major change from how the social network traditionally has approached moderation.. Wired

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