Mar. 20, 2017

BLOOMBERG    

FBI Director James Comey is about to testify on the continuing U.S. investigation into Russia’s meddling in last year’s presidential election, but President Donald Trump on Monday accused Democrats of making up claims and pushed the agency and Congress to focus instead on media leaks.

Prime Minister Theresa May will file divorce papers to leave the European Union on March 29, launching two years of complex negotiations that will pit the U.K.’s need for a trade deal against the bloc’s view that Britain shouldn’t benefit from Brexit.

The high-heeled boot surrounded by five seas is ranked the healthiest country on Earth in the Bloomberg Global Health Index of 163 countries. A baby born in Italy can expect to live to be an octogenarian. But 2,800 miles south in Sierra Leone, the average newborn will die by 52.

Fierce clashes broke out in the Syrian capital on Sunday after insurgents infiltrated government-held parts of the city through tunnels overnight, a rare if brief advance after months of steady losses at the hands of government forces elsewhere in the country.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a concerted effort to defend free trade, saying global markets can be both open and fair.

AP Top Stories     

President Trump's approval rating has fallen to 37 percent -- the lowest of his fledgling presidency, according to Gallup. His disapproval rating rose correspondingly, hitting 58 percent.

As the number of Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war climbs well into the millions, there are new warnings from top U.S. counterterrorism experts that the exodus is posing a national security threat far more serious than any the United States and Europe have seen in decades. The failure of the West to address the conditions of refugees flooding into neighboring countries creates a situation like the one that gave rise to the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan 25 years ago — with consequences that could potentially be more disastrous.

A man shot dead by French soldiers at Paris Orly airport on Saturday shouted he was there to "die for Allah" and tried to seize a soldier's assault rifle, apparently intending to open fire on passengers, a prosecutor said.

Peruvians struggled on Sunday to cope with avalanches, mudslides and extensive flash flooding caused by torrential downpours, and forecasters predicted still more rain ahead, prolonging the country’s woes.

President Donald Trump said Saturday that Germany owes "vast sums of money" to NATO and the U.S. "must be paid more" for providing defense, reiterating his stance that European allies need to meet their end of the bargain if they are to continue benefiting from the military alliance.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has described European lawmakers as "crazies" in a salty-tongued rebuttal of criticism of his deadly drug war, while vowing again that all traffickers will be killed.

Patients who received Abbott Laboratories' novel dissolving vascular stent had a significantly higher rate of serious adverse heart events than those treated with the company's widely used Xience drug-coated metal stent two years after implantation, according to data presented on Saturday.

China welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday just days after hosting Saudi Arabia's King Salman and the signing of deals worth as much as $65 billion with Riyadh, as China steps up its tentative engagement with the Middle East.

Now, a group of scientists says Pluto should definitely be added back to the planet list — oh, and that there are over 100 other objects in our solar system that should also be called planets.

A Texas high school's on-site prayer room -- which serves as a spot where Muslim students can pray -- is stirring controversy. Liberty High School in Frisco established the room in 2009, but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is concerned that the room may be off-limits to students of other religious denominations. He said in a letter Friday to the school district that any exclusion would be inconsistent with the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty. A school district spokesman responded that the classroom is available to “students of all walks of life” in the afternoon when it is vacant.

If you’re looking for a new job right now, think “health care” and “transportation,” and stay away from mining, real estate and media.

BBC    

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered the country's two main border crossings with Afghanistan to reopen immediately.

Now the children's TV show Sesame Street is introducing a new Muppet character with a simpler name, and a tougher brief. Julia, a little girl, has orange hair, a toy rabbit - and autism.

Dozens of skulls have been found at a site in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz. The find comes just days after Veracruz state Attorney General Jorge Winckler announced that more than 250 skulls had been discovered at another mass grave.

South Korea has appealed to the World Trade Organization to determine if the Chinese government is treating South Korean companies unfairly.

More than 180,000 civilians have fled the west of the Iraqi city of Mosul in the past month, as government forces battle Islamic State (IS) militants.

WND    

“The media and Democrats are so close in association and so close in their philosophical views that we might as well use one word to describe both, and that’s ‘Mediacrats,'” said Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, founder of the House Media Fairness Caucus.

A group of female clergy from Iowa wrote a letter this week to publicly state their support of the abortion chain Planned Parenthood.

Yale University may soon formally replace the term “freshman” with “first-year student” in an effort to “reflect the values” of the institution.

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