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NEWS   THURSDAY, OCTOBER  19, 2017   NEWS

Sarah Sanders says White House has no recording of Trump's call with widow
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the White House does not have a recording of President Trump's call with the widow of fallen U.S. soldier Sgt. La David Johnson, after Mr. Trump claimed he had "proof" of the conversation. The call has become a point of intense controversy, after Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida, said Mr. Trump told Johnson's widow, Myeshia Johnson, her husband "knew what he signed up for." During Wednesday's press briefing, Sanders did not dispute the details of Wilson's account, although she said she would not divulge the details of the president's private conversation.  CBS
VOA VIEW: So what if the President made the statement.

Turns Out It'll Be Congress's Fault If the Stock Market Crashes
Don’t take credit for the stock market, President Donald Trump is often warned, you’ll be blamed when it crashes. Well, maybe that can be avoided, too. With the help, specifically, of Congress, which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned must pass tax cuts or be saddled with a correction in equities after their 20 percent jump since Election Day. His words came a day after Trump tweeted pictures of the Dow Jones Industrial Average crossing 23,000 for the first time. Call it cynicism, a reasonable bear case, grandstanding or even genius itself, just don’t call it out of character for an administration whose obsession with share prices seems to swell with every record close and each legislative failure. This $2.5 trillion bull market is rapidly becoming the one bounty it can’t go without mentioning, even for a day. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Who else?

Trump tax strategy: Cut a few compromises but don't count on Democrats
President Trump's upcoming push for his tax cut plan next month will include compromises that will limit some of its current benefits for the nation's richest taxpayers, according to White House officials. The compromises will include ending a 23.8% preferential tax rate for hedge-fund managers, or the so-called carried interest rate, White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told USA TODAY. "He's not just open to it," said Short. "I would say, frankly, he wants it," he said. Retaining parts of a state and local tax deduction that benefits many middle-class families in blue states is also an area where Trump is expecting compromise as House Republican negotiators hash out legislation capable of winning the support of a number of party members representing high-tax blue states like New Jersey and New York, said Short. USA Today
VOA VIEW: Time will tell what the final product will be.

JPMorgan Executive Is Named to Run SEC Trading and Markets Unit
A JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive was picked to run the Securities and Exchange Commission unit that regulates U.S. stock markets and Wall Street brokerages. Brett Redfearn, head of market structure at the New York-based bank, will oversee the SEC’s trading and markets division, according to a statement from the regulator Wednesday. Bloomberg News broke the news earlier. The position has been open since January. The group deals with some of the most pressing matters facing the agency, including overseeing the construction of a massive trade database being built to help U.S. regulators police the stock market, as well as writing rules for exchanges and dark pools. Bloomberg

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Mayors and DeKalb officials join forces for sales tax vote
CEO Mike Thurmond, surrounded by mayors and government officials, speaks about ballot measures to increase sales taxes and cut property taxes during a press conference at the DeKalb Roads and Drainage Division on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. Elected officials from across DeKalb County and its cities are coming together around referendums to raise sales taxes and reduce property taxes. DeKalb CEO Mike Thurmond and several mayors said during a press conference Wednesday that the ballot measures would create the county’s first special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST), raising the sales tax rate to 8 percent. It would fund road repaving, new fire stations, more police cars and other infrastructure. Atlanta Journal

Las Vegas security guard breaks silence on 'Ellen' after disappearance
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino security guard Jesus Campos, who has been hailed for being the first to confront Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, gave his first public account of the attack, in an interview on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." Campos and Mandalay Bay building engineer Stephen Schuck were DeGeneres' guests in an interview taped Tuesday. "As I was walking down [the hallway], I heard rapid fire," Campos told DeGeneres in the interview. "I took cover, and I felt a burning sensation. I went to go lift my pant leg up and saw blood. That's when I called in on my radio that shots were fired." The show released an eight-minute clip of the interview on Tuesday night, and the full episode will air Wednesday afternoon. ABC
VOA VIEW: Campos is trying to profit by what happened.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he has not been interviewed by special counsel in Russia probe
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday that he has not be interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in relation to the ongoing investigation into Russian interference into last year's presidential election. Sessions hesitated when pressed by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., about whether he met with Mueller in relation to the Russia probe, the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, or his own interactions with Russian officials, saying, "Well, I'd be pleased to answer that -- I'm not sure I should without clearing that with the special counsel." ABC

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GOP calls grow to end Russia investigations in Congress this year
A growing number of key Republicans are sending this message to the leaders of the congressional committees investigating potential Trump campaign collusion with the Russians: Wrap it up soon. In the House and Senate, several Republicans who sit on key committees are starting to grumble that the investigations have spanned the better part of the past nine months, contending that the Democratic push to extend the investigation well into next year could amount to a fishing expedition. The concerns are in line with ones raised by President Donald Trump, who has publicly and privately insisted he's the subject of a "witch hunt" on Capitol Hill and by special counsel Robert Mueller. CNN
VOA VIEW: Mueller will try to bleed the taxpayers on nothing.

Republican says he'll push bipartisan health deal; Trump keeps distance
The authors of a bipartisan plan to calm health insurance markets said Wednesday they'll push the proposal forward, even as President Donald Trump's stance ricocheted from supportive to disdainful to arm's-length and the plan's fate teetered. The agreement by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., on a two-year extension of the federal subsidies to insurers that Trump has blocked gained an important new foe on Wednesday. The anti-abortion National Right to Life said it opposed the measure because it lacked language barring people from using their federally subsidized coverage to buy policies covering abortion, said Jennifer Popik, the group's top lobbyist. Sun-Sentinel

Are insurers 'enriched' by Obama health law, as Trump says?
President Donald Trump says health insurers have been "enriched" by President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. So why are companies pulling back from the law's insurance marketplaces. Big companies like Aetna and the Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer Anthem have actually pulled back from many of the law's insurance marketplaces, citing either steep losses or uncertainty over government funding. Sun-Sentinel

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Trump says Comey knew he was going to exonerate Clinton
President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to revive his long-standing complaint about the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email server investigation, alleging that then-Director James Comey had protected the Democratic presidential nominee by prematurely “exonerating” her before the 2016 election. “Comey stated under oath that he didn’t do this — obviously a fix?” Trump wrote. “Where is Justice Dept” Trump’s latest online burst came in response to the FBI’s release of heavily blacked out draft statements from May 2016 by Comey in preparation for closing the Clinton investigation without criminal charges. Seattle Times

Puerto Rico leader to seek more relief funds in D.C. trip Thursday
Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said he plans to push Congress for relief for his debt-ridden, hurricane-ravaged island Thursday, during his first trip to Washington, D.C., since Hurricane Maria. The Puerto Rican leader arrives in Washington one month after the Category 4 storm hit the island, with plenty on his plate. Rosselló said he plans to encourage Congress to pass a nearly $5 billion funding package, a loan President Donald Trump requested for the financially burdened government. The Senate also is considering a $36.5 billion general disaster relief package, passed by the House last week, that includes relief aid for Puerto Rico. The governor said he hopes to persuade federal lawmakers that the island, a U.S. territory, has the ability to manage recovery and rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Maria.  If we are not considered in equal terms to Florida, the Virgin Islands, Texas and so forth, Congress will have to deal with a worsened humanitarian crisis, massive exodus from the island, healthcare problems and more," he said. UPI
VOA VIEW: Puerto Rico chose not to be a state - now they want, no, demad, equality.

Spanish premier urges Catalan secession leaders to back down
Spain’s prime minister on Wednesday urged Catalonia’s leaders to back down from their bid to gain independence for the region, a day before a central government deadline that could significantly deepen the country’s political crisis. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has given Catalan president Carles Puigdemont until Thursday morning to clarify whether he is making the wealthy region independent. The Madrid-based national government is threatening to take the unprecedented step of seizing some or total control of the semi-autonomous region if Puigdemont proceeds with his ambitions of secession. That would likely trigger an explosive reaction in Catalonia. Seattle Times

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Guilty verdict in Boston Islamic State beheading plot
A Boston-area man was found guilty on Wednesday of conspiracy to commit acts of international terrorism and supporting Islamic State for a 2015 plot to attack police and behead a conservative blogger who organized a “Draw Mohammed” contest. David Wright, 28, was found guilty of five criminal charges for planning with his uncle and a friend to behead blogger Pamela Geller. The plot fell apart after Wright’s uncle said he wanted to kill law enforcement officers instead and was shot dead by police. Reuters

Trump and NFL at odds on how to get players to stand for anthem
The National Football League rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s calls to punish players who kneel for the national anthem to protest racism but said on Wednesday players “should” stand and it hopes the demonstrations will stop. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made clear he will take a more patient approach than the one urged by the president: Rather than using discipline, the league will continue to nurture players’ efforts to fight racial disparities in the criminal justice system, believing this would make the urge to protest fade. Reuters

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Delco man guilty of immigration fraud in 'Jungle Jabbah' war crimes case
A Delaware County man accused of hiding his past as a murderous Liberian warlord was convicted Wednesday on federal immigration fraud charges in a historic verdict that resonated from Philadelphia’s sizable community of West African expats to the Liberian capital of Monrovia thousands of miles away. Mohammed Jabateh, a 51-year-old father of five and owner of a Philadelphia-based international shipping company, is the first person convicted of crimes stemming from atrocities during the protracted, multi-factioned civil war that ravaged Liberia between 1989 and 1997. Philadelphia Inquirer

46% of voters think the media concocts fake Trump stories, poll says
A new poll by Politico and Morning Consult shows that 46% of voters believe that major news organizations fabricate stories about the president and his administration.  The poll, published Wednesday, also found that 37% of voters think the media doesn't fabricate stories about the president. Another 17% were undecided.  Morning Consult conducted the poll between October 12-16 and surveyed 1,991 registered voters. An overwhelming majority of Republicans, 76%, believe the media makes up news about Trump, according to the poll. For Democrats, 65% "think they do not." And yet the poll found that only 28% of voters believe the government should yank the broadcasting license of news organizations, with the majority — 51% — saying it should not be able to do so. USA Today
VOA VIEW: The so-called liberal news fools, 37% must have their head in the sand or no head, or fake news.

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Theresa May to scrap universal credit helpline charges
People will be able to call the government's universal credit helpline without being charged, within weeks. Prime Minister Theresa May said she had listened to criticism of the charges, which can be up to 55p a minute, and decided it was "right" to drop them. But she again rejected calls by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to "pause" the roll-out of the controversial benefit amid fears it is causing hardship. In a symbolic vote, MPs backed a pause after Tory MPs were told to abstain. The opposition won by 299 votes to 0 with one Conservative - Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston - defying her party by siding with Labour.  BBC

Quebec bans niqab for public services with neutrality law
A Canadian province has passed a controversial religious neutrality law that bars people from wearing face coverings when giving or receiving a public service. Quebec recently expanded the law to include services provided by municipal and public transit services. Women who wear a burqa or a niqab will now have to show their faces while receiving a government service. Quebec's National Assembly passed Bill 62 by a 66-51 vote. The provincial Liberals, who have been in power since 2014, tabled the bill two years ago. Bureaucrats, police officers, teachers, and bus drivers, as well as doctors, midwives, and dentists who work in publicly funded hospitals and health centres, will have to have their face uncovered. Quebec's Bill 62 does not specifically mention the Muslim faith. BBC

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