Thursday, 18 January 2018
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Trump enrages Palestinians by cutting aid to UN agency for Palestinian refugees

Added: 18.01.2018 3:05 | 0 views | 0 comments

The Palestinians accused Donald Trump of “targeting the innocent” yesterday after the US announced it was withholding tens of millions of dollars from the UN agency which supports Palestinian refugees. The row is the latest public eruption between the White House and the Palestinians and the relationship between the two sides has all but collapsed since Mr Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month.   The argument centres around the  the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which was created in 1949 to support Palestinian refugees and today gives aid to more than 5 million refugees in the Palestinian territories and neighbouring Arab countries.   The US has traditionally been the largest donor to UNRWA and last year gave $350 million to the agency (£254 million). The US had planned to give $120 million this year but announced this week that it was paying only $60 million and withholding the rest.   The State Department said there should be more “burden-sharing” of the cost of UNRWA and US officials said the agency needed to be fundamentally reformed.  Mr Trump complained on Twitter earlier this month that the US gives the Palestinians “hundreds of millions of dollars a year and get no respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel”. ...peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018 Chris Gunness, an UNRWA spokesman, said the shortfall plunged the agency into “the most severe financial crisis” in its 70-year history and warned that it could cause instability in the occupied West Bank and Gaza but also in Lebanon and Jordan.  “The potential consequences are nothing less than the stability of the Middle East. It could be catastrophic,” he said.   Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian official, said the decision showed the US “has no compunction in targeting the innocent”.  UNRWA is viewed with ambivalence in Israel. Politicians publicly lambast the agency, saying it perpetuates a victim mentality among Palestinians by passing refugee status from grandparents to parents to children.  Israel also accuses the agency of encouraging Palestinian refugees to believe they will one day be allowed to return to what is modern day Israel, something Israel will not allow to happen in any significant numbers. The UNRWA announcement came after a fiery speech delivered by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas But Israeli security officials privately acknowledge that the agency helps preserve stability in the West Bank and Gaza and provides services - like education and healthcare - that Israel might otherwise have to provide.  UNRWA said that for now it would be able to keep its schools and hospitals open but warned that services would have to be cut if more funding was not found. The agency plans to launch an emergency global appeal next week, asking states, charities and wealthy individuals for money.  Relations between the US and the Palestinians have been in free fall since Mr Trump ignored Palestinian and international objections and fulfilled his campaign promise to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said Wednesday he expected the US embassy would be moved to Jerusalem within a year - a faster timetable than the White House has suggested.   The US also closed down the Palestinian diplomatic outpost in Washington, a move that was deeply humiliating for Palestinian leaders.  The Palestinians have said since they will refuse to accept the US as a mediator in any peace talks. Palestinian officials are refusing to meet Mike Pence, the US vice president, when he visits Jerusalem next week.  The White House has intended to present a proposal for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in the spring as part of Mr Trump’s ambitions to seal what he has called “the ultimate deal”. It is no longer clear if the US will move ahead with releasing its plans. 

Flashback 1997: Bob Dole cracks jokes during White House medal ceremony

Added: 18.01.2018 2:05 | 0 views | 0 comments

In 1997, Former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) was invited to the White House and joked about having lost the presidency. Ten years later, Tim Russert asked him about the joke on Meet the Press

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Donald Trump scores top marks in Montreal cognitive test - how well would you do?

Added: 18.01.2018 2:05 | 0 views | 0 comments

The cognitive test on which Donald Trump received a perfect score is considered a good screening tool for mental decline in an otherwise healthy person, medical experts said. The US president asked to be administered a mental test and was given the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) as part of a medical exam by Dr. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician, who on Tuesday said he had absolutely no concerns about Mr Trump's neurological function. The president scored 30 out of 30. Montreal Cognitive Assessment Cognitive testing looks for signs of mild cognitive impairment and/or Alzheimer’s disease.  It focuses on cognitive functions including memory, attention, language, abstraction, delayed recall and orientation. Sample questions on the Montreal test include repeating a set of numbers in order both forwards and backwards and remembering a list of common words. Test takers are asked to identify animals, and draw a clock face, putting in all of the numbers and setting the clock hands to a specific time. It takes about 10 minutes to administer. One memory test involves memorising the words 'face', 'velvet', 'church', 'daisy', 'red' and recalling them after five minutes. Another test challenges participants to name as many words as they can in one minute that begin with the letter F. In general, patients with good or average memory forget one of the five words and can still be within the normal range, said Dr James Mastrianni, an expert in memory disorders and other neurodegenerative conditions at the University of Chicago Medicine. "It's a screening assessment that we use routinely in the clinics to determine whether someone has some degree of cognitive impairment or not," he said. "If they score poorly on that assessment, then usually there is more detailed evaluation that follows. But if they score well that usually indicates there is pretty good cognitive function. They are essentially intact," Mastrianni added. How the Presidents' physicals compare The test was was created by Dr Ziad Nasreddine, a neurologist who graduated from University of Sherbrooke, Québec, in 1996. Recognising the need for a more expeditious cognitive function test, he adapted his comprehensive screen and created a much quicker assessment which could be adapted to first line specialty clinics. The test is designed to precisely measure cognitive impairment, assess major cognitive domains by acting as a cognitive brain scan and help detect early stages of impairment for the most common neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. It is also been sensitively designed so that it does “not falsely label someone who is normal as being impaired”. The MoCA has been found to be useful to detect mild cognitive impairment in many conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular Cognitive Impairment, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease and head trauma. Test instructions may be repeated once, however items listed in the memory section may not. The MoCA is used in 100 countries around the world. The standard version of the test is "pretty good" but "not definitive" said Dr. Ronald Petersen, an Alzheimer’s disease expert at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Petersen said he could not comment specifically on the president’s cognitive health. The test does not assess the president’s psychiatric fitness and the president did not undergo a psychiatric evaluation, according to his doctor. According to the Alzheimer's Association, there is no single test that proves a person has Alzheimer's disease. That diagnosis is made through a complete assessment that considers all possible causes. 

White House Tries To Sway Immigration Debate With Terrorism Report [Infographic]

Added: 18.01.2018 2:05 | 0 views | 0 comments

The majority of international terrorism convictions in the U.S. since 9/11 have involved individuals born abroad, according to a new U.S. report. However, commentators have charged that it presents a skewed picture designed to provide backing for the Trump administration's immigration restrictions.

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Why the White Sox should absolutely trade for the Marlins' home-run sculpture

Added: 18.01.2018 2:04 | 0 views | 0 comments

This would undoubtedly be the worst trade in Miami Marlins history

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Senate Democrats Make Hard Turn Left in Warming Up for 2020 Race

Added: 18.01.2018 1:33 | 0 views | 0 comments

The 2020 race for the White House is already unfolding in the Capitol, with no fewer than six Democratic senators angling for their party’s nomination.

Olympic Détente Upends U.S. Strategy on North Korea

Added: 18.01.2018 1:29 | 0 views | 0 comments

For the White House, the budding détente scrambles its strategy of pressuring the North, with sanctions and threats of military action, to give up its nuclear arsenal.

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EPA chief Scott Pruitt defends industry ties

Added: 18.01.2018 0:44 | 0 views | 0 comments

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt talked with CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett about the EPA and the first year of the Trump presidency


John Kelly outlines Trump's demands on immigration

Added: 18.01.2018 0:40 | 0 views | 0 comments

White House chief of staff John Kelly also told Fox News Tuesday night he believes Congress has the votes for a short-term funding bill


Republicans scramble for votes in Congress to keep government open

Added: 18.01.2018 0:30 | 0 views | 0 comments

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Wednesday threw its support behind a Republican proposal to avert a government shutdown at week's end with a one-month extension in funding, but it was unclear whether there were enough votes to pass it in Congress.


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