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The US has sent a submarine to South Korea, amid worries of another North Korean missile or nuclear test.

The missile-armed USS Michigan is set to join an incoming group of warships led by aircraft carrier Carl Vinson.

North Korea is celebrating its army’s 85th founding anniversary on April 25. It marked the event with a large-scale firing drill, South Korea said.

Tensions have risen in the Korean Peninsula in recent weeks, with the US and North Korea exchanging heated rhetoric.

Experts fear North Korea could be planning more tests – it has marked some key anniversaries in the past with nuclear tests or missile launches.

However, South Korea’s defense ministry said “no unusual development had been detected”.

Image source Wikimedia

Instead, Pyongyang conducted a large live-fire drill around the city of Wonsan, South Korea said.

“Our military is closely monitoring the North Korean military’s movement,” the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

North Korea conducted a failed ballistic missile test on April 16, prompting VP Mike Pence to warn it not to “test” President Donald Trump.

In an unusual move, the entire Senate has been asked to attend a briefing on North Korea on April 26 at the White House.

The USS Michigan docked at South Korea’s Busan port on April 25, in what it called a routine visit. It is a nuclear-powered submarine carrying 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles and 60 special operations troops and mini-subs, reported the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

The submarine is expected to take part in military exercises with the Carl Vinson warship group, which the US said it was dispatching to North Korea earlier this month to “maintain readiness” in the region.

At the time, President Trump said that he was sending an “armada” to the region and that the US had submarines which were “very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier”.

North Korea reacted angrily to the aircraft carrier deployment, threatening to sink it and launch a “super-mighty pre-emptive strike” against what it called US aggression.

However, the US warships caused some confusion and attracted mockery when it emerged that they actually sailed in the opposite direction, away from North Korea, after the announcement. However, US Navy officials said they are now proceeding to the region as ordered.

China is North Korea’s only ally and main trading partner – and the US has been urging Beijing to help put pressure on Pyongyang.

China’s President Xi Jinping spoke to President Donald Trump on April 24, urging all sides to “maintain restraint and avoid actions that would increase tensions”.

President Donald Trump has launched an investigation into countries that export steel to the United States, raising the prospect of new tariffs on imports.

The investigation is designed to stop countries from flooding the US with artificially cheap steel and undercutting local suppliers.

China is most often associated with the practice but President Trump said it had “nothing to do” with Beijing. The president said it was about protecting US security.

The news caused shares in US steelmakers to rise sharply.

However, Asian steelmakers also climbed as investors appeared to shrug off the news.

The US government has previously attempted to shield national steelmakers from cheap foreign steel through the World Trade Organization, but the Trump administration says this has had little impact.

Image source Wikimedia

Instead, the investigation will fall under the US Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which lets the president impose restrictions on imports for reasons of national security.

“Steel is critical to both our economy and our military,” President Trump said.

“This is not an area where we can afford to become dependent on foreign countries.”

China is the largest national producer and makes far more steel than it consumes, selling the excess output overseas, often at subsidized prices.

However, Japan and South Korea have also been accused of dumping in the past.

Commenting on the probe, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Chinese exports now accounted for 26% of the US steel market.

Wilbur Ross said exports had risen “despite repeated Chinese claims that they were going to reduce their steel capacity”.

“The artificially low prices caused by excess capacity and unfairly-traded imports suppress profits in the American steel industry,” the administration said in a statement.

Wilbur Ross said that if the investigation found the US steel industry was suffering from excess steel imports, he would recommend retaliatory steps that could include tariffs.

President Trump has been highly critical of China’s trade practices in the past but has softened his tone of late as he seeks greater cooperation over North Korea.

Earlier in April, Donald Trump said his administration would not label China a currency manipulator, rowing back on a campaign promise.

Donald Trump had previously accused China of suppressing the yuan to make its exports more competitive against American goods.

US steel stocks rallied on April 20 with the Dow Jones US Iron and Steel Index closing 5% higher.

However, Asian steel stocks also climbed with Japan’s Nippon Steel up 1.3% on April 21 and South Korea’s Posco gaining 2.5%.

Meanwhile China’s Baoshan Iron & Steel Co, Angang Steel and Baotou Steel each gained around 0.3%.

President Donald Trump has congratulated Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his victory in April 16 referendum that gave him sweeping new powers.

President Trump’s phone call contrasts with European concern that the result – 51.4% in favor of the constitutional changes – has exposed deep splits in Turkish society.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected criticism from international monitors who said he had been favored by an “unequal campaign”.

Turkey’s main opposition party is launching an appeal to invalidate the result.

Image source Al Manar

The constitutional changes – due to be introduced before presidential and parliamentary elections in November 2019 – will turn Turkey into a presidential republic similar to the US and France. This could enable President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stay in power until 2029.

Erdogan’s narrow victory was ruled valid by Turkey’s electoral body, despite claims of irregularities by the opposition.

On April 17, Turkey extended the state of emergency for three months. The measure, introduced after a failed coup in July 2016, was set to expire in two days.

Syria is one of the issues straining relations between Washington and Ankara.

Turkey is irked by the policy started by the Obama administration of supporting Kurdish fighters in Syria who are fighting ISIS.

Turkey views the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as a terror group linked to Kurdish separatists waging an insurgency inside the country since 1984.

Turkey – a key NATO ally – has established closer co-operation with Russia recently.

The two sides are also at loggerheads over Fethullah Gulen. Turkey accuses the Pennsylvania-based cleric of orchestrating the failed coup and wants him extradited.

Officially Washington insists any decision on returning Fethullah Gulen to Turkey from the US remains a judicial rather than a political one.

President Trump’s comments contrasted with a statement by the US state department which mentioned concerns by international observers and urged Turkey to respect the rights of its citizens – chiming with sentiment in European capitals.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the “tight referendum result shows how deeply divided Turkish society is and that means a big responsibility for the Turkish leadership and for President Erdogan personally”.

And the European Commission issued a similar call.

A Russian computer programmer has been arrested in Spain for alleged involvement in “hacking” the US election, Spanish media reported.

The man, named as Pyotr Levashov, was arrested on April 7 in Barcelona. He has now been remanded in custody.

A “legal source” also told the AFP that Pyotr Levashov was the subject of an extradition request by the US.

The request is due to be examined by Spain’s national criminal court, the agency added.

Image source Getty Images

Spanish news website El Confidencial has said that Pyotr Levashov’s arrest warrant was issued by US authorities over suspected “hacking” that helped Donald Trump’s campaign.

Pyotr Levashov’s wife Maria also told Russian broadcaster RT that the arrest was made in connection with such allegations.

Several cybersecurity experts have also linked Pyotr Levashov to a Russian spam kingpin, who uses the alias Peter Severa.

A US intelligence report released in January alleged that President Vladimir Putin tried to help Donald Trump to victory.

Donald Trump later commented that the outcome of the election had not been affected.

The report said that Russia’s objectives were to “undermine public faith” in the US democratic process and “denigrate” Donald Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton.

Russia’s efforts to this end allegedly included hacking into email accounts used by the Democratic National Committee; using intermediaries such as WikiLeaks to release hacked information; and funding social media users or “trolls” to make nasty comments.

However, there were no details of Vladimir Putin’s alleged involvement with such interference in the report.

Vladimir Putin has strongly denied allegations that Russia tried to influence the US election.

KT McFarland, President Donald Trump’s deputy national security adviser, has been asked to resign after just three months.

A former Fox News analyst, KT McFarland, has been offered the role of ambassador to Singapore instead, Bloomberg and Reuters report.

The move comes days after President Trump removed his senior strategist Steve Bannon from the National Security Council (NSC).

Image source Wikipedia

The NSC advises the president on national security and foreign affairs.

Steve Bannon’s appointment in January raised fears that the circle of top advisers was being politicized.

Analysts say the latest moves show President Trump’s new national security adviser, Lt. Gen. HR McMaster, reshaping the NSC team appointed by his predecessor.

The previous national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, was fired after just three weeks and three days in the job after it emerged he had misled the vice-president over his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the US.

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President Donald Trump has ordered a missile strike against a Syrian air base in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town on April 4.

Fifty-nine Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from two US Navy ships in the Mediterranean. According to the Syrian army, 6 people were killed.

It is the first direct US military action against forces commanded by Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

The Kremlin, which backs President Assad, has condemned the strike.

The strike comes just two days after dozens of civilians, including many children, died in the suspected nerve gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province.

On the orders of President Trump, Navy destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross fired dozens of cruise missiles at Shayrat airfield in western Homs province at about 04:40 Syrian time.

According to the Pentagon, they targeted aircraft, aircraft shelters, storage areas, ammunition supply bunkers and air defense systems at the Syrian government-controlled facility.

Iamge source Times of India

Speaking from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, President Trump said he had acted in America’s “vital national security interest” to prevent the use of chemical weapons.

Donald Trump branded President Bashar al-Assad a “dictator” who had “launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians”.

The president said in a statement: “Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end this slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”

It is not known whether the six people killed were civilian or military.

The US has led a coalition carrying out air strikes against jihadist groups in Syria since 2014 but this is the first time it has targeted government forces.

President Donald Trump has previously spoken out against US military involvement in Syria, instead calling for a greater focus on domestic interests.

Only last week US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Washington was not prioritizing the removal of President Bashar al-Assad.

However, President Trump said “something should happen” against the Syrian leadership following the deaths in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, without giving details.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also signaled a sudden shift in policy on April 6, saying that Bashar al-Assad should have no role in a future Syria.

The Kremlin is one of President Assad’s most important allies and its military has been targeting all rebel groups in Syria, including jihadists such as ISIS, but also the more moderate opposition forces that the US and other Western nations have been supporting.

The Pentagon said the Russian military had been informed ahead of the US action.

However, Russia reacted angrily to the US strike, which the Syrian army said had caused significant damage.

President Trump has decided to remove his key adviser Steve Bannon from the National Security Council (NSC).

Steve Bannon’s appointment in January raised fears that the circle of US intelligence chiefs was being politicized.

However, a White House aide said the reshuffle was not a demotion for Steve Bannon, who used to head up Breitbart News.

The aide said Steve Bannon was only given a seat on the NSC to keep an eye on National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired in February.

The NSC is the main group advising the president on national security and foreign affairs.

The White House did not announce April 5presidential executive order detailing the shake-up – it only came to light in a regulatory filing.

Image source Wikimedia

The reshuffle also restores the director of national intelligence, CIA director and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to full participation on the NSC’s inner circle, its principals committee.

Critics have branded Steve Bannon as a white nationalist.

In its January 27 memorandum elevating Steve Bannon, the White House had also downgraded the military chiefs of staff, provoking widespread criticism in Washington’s foreign policy and security establishment.

The director of national intelligence and the joint chiefs were advised they only needed to attend NSC meetings when discussions pertained to their areas.

The White House bridled in January at criticism of the Bannon move, pointing out that President Barack Obama‘s former adviser, David Axelrod, regularly attended NSC meetings.

However, David Axelrod was never appointed to the principals committee, as Steve Bannon was.

President Donald Trump has promised to relax “horrendous” US banking regulations that were introduced after the financial crisis.

Referring to the Wall Street and consumer protection rules Barack Obama enacted in 2010, Donald Trump said: “We’re going to do a very major haircut on Dodd-Frank.”

Dodd-Frank aimed to prevent banks taking on too much risk and to separate their investment and commercial arms.

However, President Trump said he wants “some very strong” change to help the bank sector.

“We want strong restrictions, we want strong regulation. But not regulation that makes it impossible for the banks to loan to people that are going to create jobs,” he told a group of about 50 business leaders at a White House meeting.

Photo Reuters

“We’re going to be doing things that are going to be very good for the banking industry so that the banks can loan money to people who need it.”

Donald Trump had promised during his election campaign to relax rules on big banks, and subsequently ordered a review of the industry’s regulations.

The president’s remarks have the backing of Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive of one of the world’s biggest banks, JP Morgan Chase.

In his annual letter to shareholders, released on April 4, Jamie Dimon said the regulatory burden “is unnecessarily complex, costly and sometimes confusing”.

Dodd-Frank was designed to resolve the too-big-to-fail problem that meant banks facing collapse had to be bailed out rather than wound down.

However, Jamie Dimon said banks had essentially solved this issue by boosting the capital they held in reserve and introducing tougher risk controls.

Former Trump aide Michael Flynn wants immunity to testify on alleged Russian election meddling, his lawyer says.

Robert Kelner says his client “has a story to tell”, but needs to guard against “unfair prosecution”.

President Donald Trump said that his former national security adviser was right to ask for immunity, accusing Democrats of orchestrating a “witch hunt”.

Congress is investigating the allegations, with one senator warning of Kremlin “propaganda on steroids”.

Michael Flynn was sacked in February after misleading the White House about his conversations with a Russian envoy.

His links to Russia are being scrutinized by the FBI and the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, as part of wider investigations into claims Russia sought to help Donald Trump win the presidential election, and into contacts between Russia and members of President Trump’s campaign team.

Robert Kelner said in a statement that his client “has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit”.

He said he would not comment on his discussions with congressional panels conducting the investigation.

The lawyer said the media was awash with “unfounded allegations, outrageous claims of treason, and vicious innuendo”.

Image source Wikimedia

“No reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch-hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution,” Robert Kelner said.

Three other former Trump aides, former campaign chief Paul Manafort and former advisers Roger Stone and Carter Page, have offered to testify without requesting immunity.

The Senate Intelligence Committee opened its hearing on March 30 with one member saying Moscow had sought to “hijack” the US election.

Democrat Mark Warner said Russia may have used technology to spread disinformation, including fake news for voters in key states, such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

“This Russian ‘propaganda on steroids’ was designed to poison the national conversation in America,” he said.

Republican panel chairman Richard Burr warned: “We are all targets of a sophisticated and capable adversary.”

Richard Burr also confirmed there had been “conversations” about interviewing Michael Flynn, but his appearance had not been confirmed.

The Trump presidency has faced continued allegations that members of its team colluded with Russian officials during the election campaign.

Donald Trump regularly dismisses the claims as “fake news” and Russia has also ridiculed the allegations.

Vladimir Putin did so again on March 30 at an Arctic forum, describing them as “nonsense” and “irresponsible”.

Michael Flynn, a retired army lieutenant-general, initially denied having discussed US sanctions against Russia with the country’s ambassador, Sergei Kislyak.

However, he stood down after details of his phone call emerged, along with reports that the Department of Justice had warned the White House about Michael Flynn misleading officials and being vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

At last summer’s GOP convention, Michael Flynn led chants of “lock her up” aimed at Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server.

In September, Michael Flynn said in a TV interview that it was unacceptable that some of the Democratic candidate’s aides had been granted immunity from prosecution.

“When you get given immunity that means you’ve probably committed a crime,” Michael Flynn told NBC News.

A Senate panel investigating alleged Russian interference in the US election has vowed a thorough inquiry.

The pledge comes as a similar inquiry in the House remains mired in acrimony.

The Senate hearing began on March 30. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is set to appear next week.

In the hearing’s opening remarks chairman Republican Richard Burr said “we are all targets of a sophisticated and capable adversary”.

Ranking Democrat Mark Warner said “Russia sought to hijack our democratic process” by employing a disinformation campaign on social media, which he describes as “Russian propaganda on steroids”.

Mark Warner said March 30 session would examine how Russia may have used technology to spread disinformation in the US, including the possible generation of fake news for voters in key states, such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

“We are in a whole new realm around cyber that provides opportunity for huge, huge threats to our basic democracy,” he said.

“You are seeing it right now.”

Image source Getty Images

Former NSA director Keith Alexander will be one of those testifying on March 30.

Jared Kushner, who is married to President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, volunteered to speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the White House has said, and is scheduled to appear next week.

Committee chairman Richard Burr said the panel would not shy away from the truth.

“This investigation’s scope will go wherever the intelligence leads,” he said.

When asked if he had seen any links between Donald Trump and Russian interference, he said: “We know that our challenge is to answer that question for the American people.”

Richard Burr said that there had been “conversations” about interviewing Michael Flynn – who was sacked by President Trump as national security adviser for misleading the vice-president over his contacts with the Russian ambassador – but his appearance is not confirmed.

The Trump presidency has been unable to shake off allegations that members of its team colluded with Russian officials during the election campaign. The president has regularly dismissed the claims as “fake news” and Russia has also ridiculed the allegations.

President Vladimir Putin did so again on March 30 at an Arctic forum, describing them as “nonsense”.

Richard Burr was a security adviser to the Trump campaign but insists he remains objective.

The House Intelligence Committee’s inquiry into the matter has been beset by partisan disputes.

Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff has insisted panel chairman Devin Nunes remove himself, after accusing him of colluding with the White House.

Last week, Devin Nunes went straight to the White House after hearing allegations about surveillance of Donald Trump’s team, rather than sharing them with Democrat colleagues on the panel.

Devin Nunes later apologized but insists he remains an objective chairman and will not step down.

As well as the two houses of Congress, the FBI is also conducting an investigation into the matter.

Ivanka Trump is officially joining the Trump administration as an unpaid employee with the title Assistant to the President, the White House has announced.

Donald Trump’s daughter bowed to pressure following an outcry from ethics experts at her initial plans to serve in a more informal capacity.

Ivanka Trump, 35, said she had “heard the concerns some have with my advising the president in my personal capacity”.

Her husband, Jared Kushner, is a senior adviser to President Donald Trump.

In a statement, the White House said it was “pleased that Ivanka Trump has chosen to take this step in her unprecedented role as first daughter”.

The first daughter said in her statement that she had been “working in good faith with the White House Counsel and my personal counsel to address the unprecedented nature of my role”.

Image source Flickr

Ethics experts cried foul when it emerged last week that Ivanka Trump was to be given a West Wing office and security clearance, without formally joining the administration.

Critics said Ivanka Trump’s role ought to be made official so she could be bound by federal employee transparency and ethical standards, including a law prohibiting conflicts of interest.

Her lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, said her client will file the necessary financial disclosures and be subject to official ethics rules.

Former President Barack Obama’s ethics counselor, Norman Eisen, told the Associated Press that “for a change in what has largely been an ethics disaster, the White House came to their senses”.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be an isolated moment of sanity,” he added.

Norman Eisen was among several lawyers and government watchdog experts who wrote last week to White House counsel Don McGahn complaining about Ivanka Trump’s appointment.

Ivanka Trump has already taken steps to limit possible conflicts of interest in her business affairs.

She has passed management of her eponymous fashion label to the company president and established a trust for oversight.

Ivanka Trump has also stepped down from a leadership role in the Trump Organization, although she will continue to receive fixed payments from the real estate company.

Jared Kushner will be questioned by a committee investigating alleged ties between the Trump team and Russia.

According to the White House, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and aide has volunteered to speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The committee is examining Russia’s alleged interference in November election.

The US intelligence community believes alleged Russian hacking during the presidential election was done to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.

Russia has denied the allegations and President Trump has branded the story “fake news”.

There are two congressional investigations into the issue, plus an FBI one.

Image source Wikimedia

The Senate committee wants to question him about two meetings he allegedly arranged with senior Russians, officials told the New York Times say.

However, Jared Kushner’s staff have said that so far his offer to be questioned has not been answered.

Jared Kushner, 36, was a senior adviser to Donald Trump during the election campaign

His first meeting was with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at Trump Tower in New York in December. The second was with the head of Russia’s state-owned development bank.

White House staff told the New York Times nothing significant was discussed and members of the president-elect’s team routinely met Russians and other foreign delegations.

Meanwhile, Jared Kushner has been picked to lead a new White House team that aims to overhaul government bureaucracy.

It will have sweeping powers to reform procedures, with technology and data a key area and the help of Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft founder Bill Gates reportedly enlisted.

Jared Kushner told the newspaper the “government should be run like a great American company”.

He is a property investor and media executive who is married to Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

Jared Kushner already advises the president on foreign relations, and is said to have been influential in helping President Trump choose staff for his campaign and in government.

Donald Trump will turn to tax reform, following his failure to get his healthcare bill through Congress on March 24.

The draft bill would have scrapped the Affordable Care Act of former President Barack Obama, which was opposed by President Trump’s Republican party for years.

ObamaCare requires all Americans to have health insurance but offers subsidies to people on low incomes.

President Trump’s healtcare bill was withdrawn because of a lack of support from Republicans.

They control both houses of Congress, and the withdrawal is a major setback for the new president.

Donald Trump campaigned on his skills as a dealmaker.

Image source Flickr

He told reporters at the White House: “I would say that we will probably start going very, very strong for the big tax cuts and tax reform. That will be next.”

However, the tax cuts were supposed to be paid for by savings from the withdrawn healthcare bill.

Without the spending cuts in the failed bill, any tax cuts will add to the federal budget deficit.

President Trump lashed out at Democrats in Congress after the bill was withdrawn, blaming them for not backing his legislation.

However, it was House Republicans who ensured it was shelved, after Speaker Paul Ryan decided he could not get enough backing from his own party.

Paul Ryan said: “Doing big things is hard.”

Donald Trump refrained from criticizing Mr Ryan, whose job as speaker of the House involves rallying support for controversial bills.

“We learned about loyalty; we learned a lot about the vote-getting process,” the president said.

On March 25, Donald Trump repeated his claim that ObamaCare would “explode”, tweeting: “We will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!”

ObamaCare has been troubled by increases in insurance premiums. It also imposes tax penalties on uninsured Americans – many of them low- to moderate-income earners.

However, it also bans insurance companies from denying health coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions and allows young people to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on March 24 that tax reform was “a lot simpler” in many ways than healthcare reform.

Steve Mnuchin said that his goal remained to get tax measures through Congress by August this year.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer admitted that this goal was “an ambitious one”, but one that the administration was “going to try to stick to”.

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President Donald Trump has set March 24 ultimatum for the vote on the new health care bill in the House of Representatives.

The American Healthcare Act is intended to replace parts of President Barack Obama’s signature law, ObamaCare.

However, March 23 vote was delayed because of opposition from some Republicans – despite President Trump’s repeated attempts to persuade them to back the legislature.

The president now says he wants to move on and vote – whatever the result on March 24.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said this was exactly the message delivered to Republican lawmakers at a meeting behind closed doors on March 23.

Image source Wikipedia

House Speaker Paul Ryan said: “For seven-and-a-half years we have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law because it’s collapsing and it’s failing families, and tomorrow we’re proceeding.”

Meanwhile, New York’s Republican representative Chris Collins said: “The president has said he wants a vote tomorrow, up or down.

“If for any reason it is down, we are just going to move forward with additional parts of his agenda.”

Repealing and replacing ObamaCare was a major plank of Donald Trump’s election campaign.

March 23 vote postponement is a setback for the president who had insisted he would win the numbers to pass it through the lower chamber of Congress on that day.

Earlier on March 23, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said President Trump had made a “rookie’s error for bringing this up on a day when clearly you’re not ready”.

The healthcare bill needs 215 votes to pass but ran into opposition mainly from conservative Republicans who believed it did not roll back enough of Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

ObamaCare helped 20 million previously uninsured Americans get health insurance but has been plagued by increases in insurance premiums, which were also a problem before the health law.

Donald Trump promised a new law that would cover more people and at a lower cost.

The Republican bill keeps some of the popular elements of ObamaCare but limits future federal funding for Medicaid, which covers low-income people.

A new estimate by the Congressional Budget Office released on March 23 said recent changes to the bill would make it costlier than previously thought.

The number of uninsured Americans would rise to 24 million by 2026 under the new law, the budget analysis said.

Groups representing doctors, hospitals and the elderly have said they are opposed to the Republican bill.

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McDonald’s has apologized after it sent an insulting message to President Donald Trump and said its Twitter account was “compromised”.

The company tweeted: “You are a disgusting excuse of a President and we would love to have @BarackObama back.”

It also asserted that the president had “tiny hands”.

Not long after the message was removed, McDonald’s tweeted: “We deleted the tweet, secured our account and are now investigating this.”

McDonald’s said that it had been notified by Twitter that the account had been “compromised”.

It was not clear whether this meant that the account had been hacked or taken over by a rogue employee.

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An intruder has been arrested after breaching the White House grounds carrying a backpack, the Secret Service said.

The breach happened around midnight on March 10 while President Donald Trump was in the building, the agency said.

The intruder was arrested without incident and no hazardous materials were found in the backpack.

President Trump and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly were briefed on the incident.

According to the Secret Service, agents searched the grounds and found “nothing of concern to security operations”.

Intruders have broken into the grounds of the White House before by scaling the perimeter fence. They are usually handed over to local police.

A new executive order placing a 90-day ban on people from six mainly Muslim nations has been signed by President Donald Trump on March 6.

Iraq, which was covered in the previous seven-nation order, has been removed from the new list after agreeing additional visa vetting measures.

The new order, which includes a 120-day ban on all refugees, takes effect on March 16 to limit travel disruption.

The previous order, which was blocked by a federal court, sparked confusion at airports and mass protests.

Citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, the other six countries on the original list, will once more be subject to a 90-day travel ban.

Iraq was taken off the banned list in the original order – which was issued on January 27 – because its government has boosted visa screening and data sharing, White House officials said.

The new directive says refugees already approved by the State Department can enter the United States; it limits the number allowed in to 50,000 for the year.

Image source Flickr

The order also lifts an indefinite ban on all Syrian refugees.

Green Card holders from the named countries will not be affected by the new order.

The new order also does not give priority to religious minorities, unlike the previous directive.

However, critics of the Trump administration had argued that was an unlawful policy showing preference to Christian refugees.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a joint news conference on March 6 to discuss the new directive.

Rex Tillerson the order was meant to “eliminate vulnerabilities that radical Islamic terrorists can and will exploit for destructive ends”.

Jeff Sessions said that, according to the FBI, more than 300 people who entered the US as refugees are under investigation for potential terrorism-related offences.

He said three of the countries were state sponsors of terrorism.

The other three, the top prosecutor said, had lost control of territory to militants such as ISIS or al-Qaeda.

John Kelly added that unregulated and unvetted travel was putting national security at risk.

He told reporters: “Our enemies will exploit our freedoms and generosity to harm us.”

John Kelly said the US cannot tolerate “malevolent actors using our immigration system to take American lives”.

None of the cabinet secretaries took any questions after the press conference.

President Donald Trump has accused Barack Obama of wiretapping his phone a month before he was elected.

The president tweeted on March 4: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

Donald Trump went on to say that a court had earlier denied a wiretap request.

He has given no details to back up the claim – or suggested which court order he was referring to.

Media reports in the past few weeks have suggested the FBI had sought a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance court (FISA) last summer in order to monitor members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials.

The warrant was first turned down but then approved in October, according to the media reports.

There has been no official confirmation and it is also not clear if this evolved into a full investigation.

There has been no comment yet from former President Barack Obama.

Donald Trump tweeted: “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to the Election.”

The president called the alleged tapping “a new low” and said “This is Nixon/Watergate” – referring to the most notorious political scandal of 1972, which led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon after a web of political spying, sabotage and bribery was exposed by the media.

Donald Trump also called it McCarthyism – the persecution for US Communists and their allies led by Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s.

His tweets followed allegations made by conservative radio host Mark Levin, which were later picked up by Breitbart News, the website founded by Steve Bannon, now Donald Trump’s chief strategist.

Mark Levin said there should be a congressional investigation into what he called Barack Obama’s “police state” tactics in his last months in office to undermine Donald Trump’s campaign.

Breitbart summarizes Mark Levin’s accusations, which say that “the Obama administration sought, and eventually obtained, authorization to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign; continued monitoring the Trump team even when no evidence of wrongdoing was found; then relaxed the NSA (National Security Agency) rules to allow evidence to be shared widely within the government”.

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Actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided to quit The New Celebrity Apprentice, blaming Donald Trump’s involvement.

In an interview with Empire, Arnold Schwarzenegger claimed that low ratings were due to Donald Trump’s credit as executive producer.

The actor said he would like to work “on a show that doesn’t have this baggage”.

Donald Trump – who left the show to run for the White House – has previously ridiculed his TV boardroom successor.

In March 3 interview, Arnold Schwarzenegger claimed an anti-Trump social media campaign had impacted the ratings of the show, on which he debuted in January.

Image source Flickr

He said: “When people found out that Trump was still involved as executive producer and was still receiving money from the show, then half the people [started] boycotting it.

“It’s not about the show… because everyone I ran into came up to me and said, <<I love the show… but I turned it off because as soon as I read Trump’s name I’m outta there!>>

“It’s a very divisive period now and I think this show got caught up in all that division.”

He added that he would decline if asked to host again.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has often clashed on Twitter with Donald Trump.

Last month at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC, President Trump mockingly asked people to “pray for Arnold… for those ratings”.

The president said the show had been swamped “in comparison to the ratings machine, DJT”, using his own initials.

The Celebrity Apprentice, whose 15th season ended last month, averaged fewer than five million viewers per episode.

Donald Trump became a household name as the show’s host for 14 seasons.

Some 20 million Americans were regular watchers in its first year before the viewing figures tapered to six million for Donald Trump’s last episode.

President Donald Trump has defended under-fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions amid calls for him to quit.

According to the Democrats, Jeff Sessions “lied on oath” at his confirmation hearing about contacts with the Russian ambassador.

President Trump said Jeff Sessions “could have stated his response more accurately but it was clearly not intentional” and accused Democrats of a “witch hunt”.

However, Jeff Sessions has removed himself from an FBI probe into alleged Russian meddling in the US election.

The Democrats have maintained their attacks on Jeff Sessions, saying his explanation regarding his contacts with the Russian ambassador in 2016 were “simply not credible”.

Donald Trump said the Democrats had “lost the election and now they have lost their grip on reality”.

The Trump campaign was dogged by allegations that some of his team had met with Russian officials and that Moscow had interfered in the election on his behalf. Donald Trump has branded the allegations “fake news”.

Image source Flickr

It stems from Jeff Sessions’ comments at his confirmation hearing in January.

He was asked: “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government, in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”

Jeff Sessions responded: “I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians. And I’m unable to comment on it.”

However, it then emerged Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak held a private conversation in Sessions’ office in September and spoke at a meeting with several other envoys on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention in July.

Jeff Sessions was at the time a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. However, he was already a prominent member of Donald Trump’s campaign team.

The former Alabama senator also had meetings with more than 25 foreign ambassadors in the course of the year.

He insists he did not lie at the confirmation hearing, saying his comments were “honest and correct as I understood it at the time”.

Jeff Sessions said he had spoken with the Russian ambassador as a US senator and not as Donald Trump’s “surrogate”.

He said: “I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.”

Jeff Sessions admitted that in his confirmation comments he “should have slowed down and said, <<but I did meet one Russian official a couple of times>>”.

He said that during his meeting with Sergei Kislyak they talked about terrorism and then “somehow the subject of Ukraine came up”.

Nancy Pelosi repeated her call for Jeff Sessions to quit. She said his “his narrow recusal and sorry attempt to explain away his perjury” were totally inadequate.

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said Jeff Sessions “clearly misled” the Senate and his explanation was “simply not credible”.

Although some top Republicans in the House and Senate agreed Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from the investigation, senior figures rallied behind him, resisting demands for the appointment of an independent prosecutor.

For Jeff Sessions to be charged with perjury, prosecutors would have to show that he not only made false statements, but knowingly and willfully misled members of the committee about an indisputable fact.

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Several pictures of Kellyanne Conway kneeling on the couch in the Oval Office with her shoes on have sparked a social media storm.

The senior White House adviser is seen clutching her phone as President Donald Trump poses with leaders of historically black colleges and universities.

Twitter users accused Kellyanne Conway of “disrespect”.

She was taking her own photos at the time.

Image source Getty Images

One user tweeted on the social media site: “That’s no way to act in the People’s Oval Office.”

“Think of all the great people who sat on that couch and put your feet down,” wrote another.

The pictures led some to question Kellyanne Conway’s body language, suggesting that she was not taking the meeting on February 27 seriously.

Image source Getty Images

Others downplayed the excitement, indicating that it was all a bit of a storm in a teacup.

The images of Kellyanne Conway also drew comparisons to a photograph taken in 2013 showing then President Barack Obama with a foot up on the Oval Office desk.

President Trump was meeting leaders of historically black colleges and universities to discuss his administration’s support for the schools, including contracts and grants.

Kellyanne Conway is no stranger to controversy.

Earlier this month she was criticized after citing a “massacre” which never happened while defending Donald Trump’s controversial immigration ban.

Kellyanne Conway’s recent promotion of products linked to Ivanka Trump led to calls for an investigation into whether she had violated ethics rules.

President Donald Trump is seeking to boost defense spending by $54 billion in his proposed budget plan for 2018, which is about a 9% increase.

The blueprint also calls for deep cuts elsewhere, including to foreign assistance and environmental budgets.

However, President Trump’s plan leaves large welfare programs such as Social Security and Medicare untouched, despite Republican calls for reform.

Donald Trump is expected to release his final budget proposal in mid-March.

He said in a meeting with governors at the White House on February 27: “We’re going to do more with less and make the government lean and accountable.”

President Trump, who vowed to increase military spending and preserve welfare programs during his campaign, said the budget will focus on “military, safety, economic development”.

Image source Flickr

He said: “It will include an historic increase in defense spending to rebuild the depleted military of the United States of America at a time we most need it.”

Military spending has declined in recent years due to budgetary battles in Congress that led to a defense sequester.

Donald Trump’s proposal would return the United States closer to wartime spending.

He also said he would discuss his plans for infrastructure spending, in a speech to Congress on February 28.

“We’re going to start spending on infrastructure big,” he said.

Donald Trump did not say how his budget proposal will tackle mandatory spending and taxes, promising those details to come later.

He pledged to cut taxes during his presidential campaign, which would likely add to the national debt.

Military spending has declined in recent years due to budgetary battles in Congress that led to a defense sequester.

The White House sent President Trump’s 2018 budget blueprint, which begins on October 1, to federal agencies on February 27.

The agencies will then review the plan and propose changes to the cuts as the White House prepares for negotiations with Congress.

The Republican-controlled Congress must approve any federal spending.

Donald Trump’s plan is expected to face backlash from Democrats and some Republicans over cuts to domestic programs.

President Donald Trump has announced he will skip the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on April 29.

The event draws celebrities, journalists and politicians, normally including the president.

Donald Trump said he would not attend the event a day after the White House excluded several major broadcasters and newspapers from a press briefing.

The president has frequently described negative news coverage as “fake”.

However, he has not provided any evidence for his claims.

The announcement comes as relations between the White House and some media outlets continue to deteriorate.

On February 24, the CNN, Buzzfeed, BBC and the New York Times were among media groups barred from an off-camera informal briefing held by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Hours before the briefing, President Trump had delivered a strong attack on what he called “fake news” in the media, targeting stories with unnamed sources.

He said “fake news” was the “enemy of the people”.

Image source Getty Images

President Trump announced his non-attendance at the correspondents’ dinner via Twitter, writing: “I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!”

Bloomberg News and the New Yorker magazine are among media outlets who have said they will not hold their usual after-parties this year.

There have been some calls for journalists to boycott the event itself.

According to the New York Times, every sitting president since 1924 has attended the correspondents’ dinner at least once.

They traditionally make a light-hearted speech at the annual event. Former President Barack Obama attended eight times.

Donald Trump has been a regular at the dinner in the recent past.

In 2011, Barack Obama joked that Donald Trump would turn the White House into a casino if he became president and made fun of rumors, then propagated by Trump, that President Obama was not born in the United States.

Donald Trump was shown on camera sitting stony-faced through a barrage of jokes at his expense, including some from host Seth Meyers, although he said last year that he “loved that dinner”.

Many believe that the 2011 event fuelled Donald Trump’s desire to enter politics and later run for office.

In a statement the White House Correspondents’ Association said it took note of President Trump’s announcement and said the dinner would “continue to be a celebration of the First Amendment and the important role played by an independent news media in a healthy republic”.

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Mexico has warned the United States against imposing a unilateral tax on Mexican imports to finance the border wall, saying it could respond in kind.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said the government could place tariffs on selected goods from United States reliant on exports to Mexico.

Earlier, President Donald Trump vowed to start building the wall “soon, way ahead of schedule”.

The US government says it will start accepting design proposals next month.

The US Customs and Border Protection Agency has informed that it will ask companies to submit proposals “for the design and build of several prototype wall structures” on or around March 6.

A shortlist of the best designs will be drawn up by March 20, after which bidders will be asked to cost their ideas.

Contracts are expected to be awarded by mid-April.

Addressing the CPAC in Maryland on February 24, President Donald Trump vowed to always put American citizens first and build a “great, great border wall”.

Donald Trump has pledged that Mexico will pay for the wall, which could cost up to $21.5 billion, according to Reuters, which cited a Department of Homeland Security internal report.

The figure is much higher than Donald Trump’s estimated price tag of $12 billion.

President Trump has proposed to levy a 20% tax on Mexican imports to pay for a border wall.

In a radio interview on February 24, Luis Videgeray said that “Mexico believes in free trade”, but “would have to respond” if the US tried to fund a border wall by imposing a tax on Mexican imports.

“What we cannot do is remain with our arms crossed,” he said.

“Mexico will face this as a reality and not just as a rhetorical threat because we have realized that rhetorical threats come and go.”

According to reports, Luis Videgeray has previously identified states including Iowa, Texas and Wisconsin as possible targets for retaliatory tariffs.

Mexico is by far the top destination for Texan exports, with goods worth $92.4 billion exported there in 2015, according to the US Department of Commerce.

The wall is a sensitive political subject in Mexico. President Enrique Pena Nieto canceled a trip to meet President Trump last month over the dispute and has said Mexico will not fund the wall.

On February 23, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly met their Mexican counterparts in Mexico City.

Neither side made any mention of the wall in the news conference after their closed-door meetings.

President Donald Trump needs Congressional approval for funding before moving forward with construction of the wall.

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Addressing the Conservative Political Action Congress (CPAC), President Donald Trump has promised to start building a wall on the Mexican border “soon, way ahead of schedule”.

President Trump vowed to always put American citizens first and build a “great, great border wall”.

He also promised to focus on “getting bad people out of this country”.

Donald Trump was greeted by chants of “USA, USA, USA!” as the president addressed the annual forum in Maryland.

“We’re building the wall,” he said.

“In fact it’s going to start very soon. Way ahead of schedule. It’s way, way, way ahead of schedule.”

Donald Trump’s comments come a day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly met their Mexican counterparts in Mexico City.

Neither made any mention of the wall in February 23 news conference after their closed-door meetings.

Image source Flickr

The wall could cost up to $21.5 billion, according to Reuters, citing a Department of Homeland Security internal report – much higher than Donald Trump’s estimated price tag of $12 billion.

Donald Trump, who has insisted Mexico would later pay for the wall, needs Congressional approval for funding before moving forward with construction.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has said he would not finance Donald Trump’s wall.

On February 24, President Donald Trump also said he was working on a plan to “totally obliterate” ISIS.

“Foreign terrorists will not be able to strike America if they can’t get in to America,” he said.

Donald Trump continued that he “took a lot of heat on Sweden”, referring to his erroneous claim that an attack had recently happened there.

He told the crowd: “I love Sweden… but the people over there understand I’m right.”

President Trump then referred to terrorist attacks in France before telling an anecdote about a friend who used to love travelling to Paris every year, but has stopped because “Paris is no longer Paris”.

One of the loudest rounds of applause came when he emphasized his “America First” outlook.

“Global co-operation, dealing with other countries, getting along with other countries is good,” he said.

“It’s very important.

“But there’s no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency or a global flag.

“This is the United States of America that I’m representing. I’m not representing the globe; I’m representing your country.”

President Trump devoted the first 13 minutes of his speech to criticizing the media and its use of unnamed sources, without saying which stories he was unhappy with.

Relations between the White House and the media hit a new low for his presidency a few hours later.

Reporters from the BBC, The New York Times, CNN and other outlets were excluded from a briefing by the White House press secretary Sean Spicer. No reason was given, but Associated Press and Time magazine boycotted the so-called gaggle in protest.

Donald Trump is the first president to address the group during his first year in office since Ronald Reagan in 1981, according to American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp.