13 May 2017

Senior Trump aide: President to back Palestinian ‘self-determination’ on Mideast trip
President Donald Trump will express support for Palestinian “self-determination” during a Middle East trip this month, a senior aide said on Friday, suggesting Trump is open to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict despite not having publicly embraced the idea so far. The comment…came just nine days after a White House visit by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in which Trump vowed to seek a historic peace deal but stopped short of explicitly recommitting to the eventual goal of Palestinian statehood…

Hamas boycotts local Palestinian elections held in West Bank
Palestinians held municipal elections on Saturday in the occupied West Bank, a first democratic exercise in years, but one that has also raised tensions between the rival Fatah and Hamas movements. With no legislative or presidential elections in sight, the municipal ballot is seen as a popularity test for Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party, caught in a deep rift with Islamist Hamas.

Ebola: WHO declares outbreak in DR Congo
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. At least one person has died after contracting the virus in the country’s north-east, the WHO says. The Congolese health ministry had notified the WHO of a “lab-confirmed case” of Ebola, it added on Twitter.

North Korea ‘would hold talks’ with Trump administration
North Korea has said it will hold talks with the US “if the conditions were right”, South Korean media reports. A senior North Korean diplomat said dialogue with the Trump administration was possible following a meeting with ex-US government officials in Norway. Earlier this month US President Donald Trump said he would be “honoured” to meet Kim Jong-un.

Pope Francis canonises two children at Portugal’s Fatima shrine
Pope Francis was greeted by crowds of hundreds of thousands as he made saints of two shepherd children at the Fatima shrine complex in Portugal. “We declare the blissful Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto saints,” the pontiff said to loud applause. It is 100 years since the two – and a third child – reported seeing the Virgin Mary while tending sheep. The third is also on the way to sainthood.

Intel Report: Iran Refining Nuke Delivery System in Flagrant Violation of Ban
Iran continues to make critical technological strides in its efforts to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons over great distances, efforts that violate international prohibitions, according to the director of national intelligence, who informed Congress this week that the Islamic Republic “would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons.”

Court Rules Kentucky Print Shop Has Right to Avoid Making Gay Pride T-shirts
A Kentucky appellate court on Friday ruled that the Christian owner of a printing shop in Lexington had the right to refuse to make T-shirts promoting a local gay pride festival. The dispute represents the latest court fight testing the limits of antidiscrimination protections for gays and lesbians following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

U.S., China agree to first trade steps under 100-day plan
The United States and China have agreed to take action by mid-July to increase access for U.S. financial firms and expand trade in beef and chicken among other steps as part of Washington’s drive to cut its trade deficit with Beijing. The deals are the first results of 100 days of trade talks that began last month, when a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping proved far more friendly than had been expected after last year’s U.S. presidential campaign, but the immediate impact was unclear.

U.S. retail sales rise broadly; consumer prices rebound
U.S. retail sales increased broadly in April while consumer prices rebounded, pointing to a pickup in economic growth and a gradual rise in inflation that could keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates next month. The reports on Friday added to labor market data in suggesting the near stall in economic activity in the first quarter was an anomaly.

A Russian jet flew within 20 feet of a Navy surveillance plane. The Pentagon says it was
A Russian jet flew within 20 feet of an U.S. Navy surveillance plane this week, but U.S. military officials said Friday that they consider the event to have been conducted safely and professionally.

Hezbollah: Next Confrontation With Israel Could Be Invasion
The leader of the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah said Thursday that the next conflict with Israel could occur inside its territory, suggesting the militia could invade its southern neighbor.

“Worst-Ever Recorded” Ransomware Attack Strikes Over 57,000 Users Worldwide, Using NSA-Leaked Tools
“Today shows exactly what’s at stake when government hackers can’t keep their virtual weapons locked up… this could be one of the worst-ever recorded attacks of its kind…I’ve never seen anything like this with ransomware.”

Has Venezuela’s Crisis Reached A Tipping Point?
“The path forward is Maduro will be pushed out of power, or there will be a repressive, horrible crackdown where the death tolls keep mounting…”

Aetna to lose almost $1 Billion from 2014-2017 – Will abandon ALL ObamaCare exchanges
Last year, you may recall that one of the nation’s largest insurers, Aetna, announced it had suffered major losses under the failing Affordable Care Act.  As a result, it was pulling out of many ACA exchanges.  The company said it intended to soldier on in just four states –  Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska, and Virginia.

Pruitt Says Obama’s Enviro Record Was Terrible 
…Pruitt, who sued the EPA more than a dozen times as Oklahoma’s attorney general, told reporters Wednesday that the Obama administration “deserved” to be sued for exceeding “their statutory authority.” He also said activists consistently gave the agency’s poor record on local environmental disasters a pass. “What’s so great about that record?” he said, referring to the Obama administration’s handling of the Gold King Mine disaster and Flint water crisis. The EPA was roundly criticized during the latter half of former President Barack Obama’s final term for not reacting quicker on Flint.

Obama’s Non-Profit On Same Dubious Path First Blazed By Clinton Foundation
Barack Obama’s presidential foundation is barely two years old, but he is taking it down the same controversial — and by some accounts illegal — post-presidency path of his predecessor Bill Clinton, according to documents reviewed by The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group