ECM WORLD WATCH: NATIONAL AND GLOBAL NEWS

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January 31, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) - East County Magazine's World Watch helps you be an informed citizen on important issues globally and nationally. As part of our commitment to reflect all voices and views, we include links to news sources representing a broad spectrum of political, religious, and social views.  Top world and U.S. headlines include:

U.S.

WORLD

For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.

U.S.

2018 State of the Union fact check (New York Times)

Reporters from The New York Times checked the facts, falsehoods and statements in need of context from President Trump’s first State of the Union address. Watch a replay along with real time analysis here, and read an annotated transcript of the speech.

Trump officials take heat for declining Russian sanctions (The Hill)

The Trump administration faced blowback on Capitol Hill Tuesday for declining to implement new sanctions against Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential election…“I’d like to know why they’re not doing more,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said of the sanctions. “There may be a good reason, but I don’t want to send anything that could be a signal of weakness.” Lawmakers last year passed legislation to punish Moscow with a veto-proof majority in both chambers of Congress, forcing President Trump to sign it.

Interior cancels decades-old protections for migratory birds (High Country News)

Under the new interpretation, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act forbids only intentional killing – such as hunting or killing birds to get their feathers – without a permit. The administration will no longer apply the act to industries that inadvertently kill a lot of birds through oil drilling, wind power and communications towers. Critics fear that these industries might now end the bird-friendly practices that save large numbers of birds.

In Reversal, EPA Suspends Alaska Mining Project to Preserve Watershed Protections (NPR)

In a surprise announcement, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the agency will not rescind protections imposed in 2014, based on assessments the mine would cause significant harm to the watershed.

Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Off When White House Counsel Threatened to Quit (New York Times)

President Trump ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive…After receiving the president’s order to fire Mr. Mueller, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, refused to ask the Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel, saying he would quit instead…

Trump calls report he ordered Mueller’s firing ‘fake news’ (The Hill)

President Trump dismissed reports that he ordered Special Counsel Robert Mueller's firing last summer as "fake news" on Friday in Davos, Switzerland.

Bernie Sanders ‘Medicare for all’ online townhall drew over 1 million live viewers (Huffington Post)

… The event consisted of three expert panel discussions moderated by Sanders: the first discussing problems with the current American health care system; the second on the potential economic impact of a “Medicare for all” program; and the third comparing the American health care system with those in other countries. Each of the three segments also featured questions from the live audience and video queries submitted online. View video.

Newly Defanged, Top Consumer Protection Agency Drops Investigation of High-Cost Lender (Pro Publica)

In the latest sign that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is pulling back from aggressive enforcement, it dropped an investigation triggered by a 2013 ProPublica story about a lender that charges triple-digit interest rates.

Trump's Justice Department Warns House Republicans Not to Release Disputed FISA Memo (Buzzfeed)

The Trump administration’s Department of Justice is fighting a Republican push to release a classified, GOP-drafted memo that alleges government abuse of foreign intelligence laws in the Russia-Trump investigation.

Showdown escalates between Trump, Nunes and the FBI (Washington Post)

The FBI, the White House, and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee were embroiled in a public standoff Wednesday over the expected release of a Republican memo criticizing the bureau’s use of secret surveillance orders. In a highly unusual move, the FBI issued a statement challenging the classified memo’s anticipated release, saying: “We have grave concerns about the material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact” its accuracy.

3 Ways the New Tax Law Will Impact Seniors (Caring.com)

The short answer: For now, it will depend on your income level and where you live, but in the long-term, seniors could see their healthcare premiums go up.

5 Ways Election Interference Could (And Probably Will) Worsen In 2018 And Beyond (NPR)

If you thought 2016 was bad, just wait for the sequel. Russian election interference seeped into nearly every aspect of the political landscape two years ago, but many experts are wondering whether upcoming U.S. elections could be worse.

No Middle Eastern or North African Category On 2020 Census, Bureau Says (NPR)

The Census Bureau's announcement about its race and ethnicity questions disappoints advocates who for years have been pushing for a check box for people with roots in the Middle East or North Africa.

A Conspiracy of Silence Assaults Privacy (Jewish World Review)

22 members of the committee knowingly kept from their 500 or so congressional colleagues incendiary information that, had it been revealed in a timely manner, would certainly have affected the outcome of the vote….

WORLD

Paris floods:  Hundreds flee in boats as Seine rises (International Business Times)

Flooding is "a question of the town adapting to climate change," says city mayor.

At Least 103 Killed, 235 Wounded in Taliban Car Bombing in Kabul (NPR)

A suicide car bombing in Afghanistan on Saturday has now killed at least 103 and wounded at least another 235 people near a police checkpoint in the country's capital of Kabul, Afghanistan's Interior Ministry said Sunday.

Pope urges Europe to be more active in fighting anti-Semitism (Reuters)

Pope Francis called on European countries on Monday to do more to fight anti-Semitism, saying indifference on the issue was a virus that could allow the ideas of racial hatred to spread.

Egypt anti-gay raids: LGBT rights activists fear widespread brutal crackdown (International Business Times)

An LGBT activist working underground in Egypt has accused the government of sparking panic by relaunching a brutal anti-gay crackdown to boost popularity ahead of elections.

Mexico Registers Its Highest Homicides on Record (NPR)

The country racked up nearly 30,000 homicides in 2017, the most since it began reporting the statistic in 1997. But that doesn't make it the "most dangerous" country as President Trump claimed.

In Turkey, cruel tradition trumps ‘picture perfect’ gender laws (CS Monitor)

Laws to promote women's rights are on the books in Turkey. But ...activists fear the government is backsliding….Turkey also has one of the world’s highest rates of femicide – the murder of a woman on account of her gender. In the first seven months of 2009, official figures showed, there were 953 cases of femicide, about one every five hours.

Violent Protests in India Follow Release of Controversial Bollywood Epic (NPR)

Shops were ransacked and vehicles torched in parts of India on Thursday as activists from Hindu nationalist groups showed their anger over the release of a controversial film about a [romantic encounter between] 14th Century Muslim and a Hindu queen. / A school bus was reportedly pelted with stones….During production of the film a year ago, Bhansali was assaulted and the set vandalized over the controversy…