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New Trump Office Would Protect Conscience Rights of Doctors

Reinforcing its strong connection with social conservatives, the Trump administration announced Thursday a new federal office to protect medical providers refusing to participate in abortion, assisted suicide or other procedures on moral or religious grounds. Leading Democrats and LGBT groups immediately denounced the move, saying “conscience protections” could become a license to discriminate, particularly against gay and transgender people. The announcement by the Department of Health and Human Services came a day ahead of the annual march on Washington by abortion opponents, who will be addressed via video link by…

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Prosecutors Want to Call 19 Other Accusers at Cosby Retrial

Prosecutors preparing for Bill Cosby’s retrial on sexual assault charges want to call 19 other accusers to try to show a pattern of “prior bad acts” over five decades. The comedian’s first trial ended with a hung jury in June. In that proceeding, prosecutors asked to call 13 other accusers, but the judge allowed only one to testify. A lawyer for Cosby says she can’t comment on Thursday’s filing. The 80-year-old comedian is charged with knocking out a Temple University employee with pills and sexually assaulting her in 2004. Cosby…

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Even Without El Nino Last Year, Earth Keeps on Warming

Earth last year wasn’t quite as hot as 2016’s record-shattering mark, but it ranked second or third, depending on who was counting. Either way, scientists say it showed a clear signal of man-made global warming because it was the hottest year they’ve seen without an El Nino boosting temperatures naturally.      The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United Kingdom’s meteorological office on Thursday announced that 2017 was the third hottest year on record. At the same time, NASA and researchers from a nonprofit in Berkeley, California, called…

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Has #MeToo Gone Too Far? Ansari Story Sparks Debate

The #MeToo movement has been embraced by legions of women as a vital step toward countering widespread sexual abuse and misconduct. This week, more so than at any point in the movement’s brief history, there’s visceral discussion about its potential for causing harm. The catalyst was the publication by Babe.net of an account by a woman identified only as “Grace” detailing her 2017 encounter with comedian Aziz Ansari. The article intimated that Ansari deserved inclusion in the ranks of abusive perpetrators, yet many readers — women and men — concluded…

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Russia Probes Come Up Against Claims of Executive Privilege

President Donald Trump’s White House is relying on a sweeping interpretation of executive privilege that is rankling members of Congress on both sides of the aisle as current and former advisers parade to Capitol Hill for questioning about possible connections with Russia.   The White House’s contention: Pretty much everything is off limits until the president says it’s not.   The argument was laid bare this week during former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s interview with the House Intelligence Committee. As lawmakers in the closed-door session probed Bannon’s time…

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Pence Visit Showcases Dilemma Facing Egypt, Jordan Leaders

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s upcoming visit to the Middle East comes at a time of intensely publicized friction between his administration and the Palestinian leadership, posing a dilemma for his Arab hosts – Egypt’s president and Jordan’s king – on how to safeguard their vital ties with Washington without appearing to ignore Palestinian misgivings. Both countries are heavily dependent on U.S. military and economic aid, and talks with a senior Trump administration official like Pence offer them an opportunity to strengthen those ties. It’s a tall order given that…

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Trump Insists His Views On Border Wall Have Not ‘Evolved’

President Donald Trump insisted Thursday his views on a border wall with Mexico have not evolved, pushing back against his own chief of staff’s comments to lawmakers. Trump said on Twitter: “The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it.” Some Democrats who met with White House chief of staff John Kelly on Wednesday say Kelly told them parts of the border don’t need a wall — and that Trump didn’t know that when making campaign promises. Trump tweeted Thursday…

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Turkey says US ‘Inconsistent’ on Syrian Border Force

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Thursday the United States has made inconsistent statements about its plans to create a Kurdish-led Syrian border guard and called on Washington to stand with Turkey against the emergence of such a force.   Turkey has reacted angrily to the U.S.-led coalition’s stated plans to form a 30,000-strong Kurdish-led force, calling it an “army of terror” and vowing to crush it. It has also said it will launch a military offensive against the enclave of Afrin and other Syrian Kurdish militia-controlled territories, and has…

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Trump to Pennsylvania, but Don’t Call it a Campaign Trip

President Donald Trump is tiptoeing around the first congressional election of the new year as he heads to southwestern Pennsylvania on Thursday to hail the Republican tax cuts he signed last year. Trump will appear with the Republican nominee for a Pittsburgh-area House seat. But the White House said Trump won’t mention Rick Saccone in his remarks. And the event isn’t actually in the 18th Congressional District, which holds the special election March 13.  Democrats, meanwhile, aren’t necessarily any more confident in the chances that lawyer and former Marine Conor…

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Chief of Staff Kelly: Trump Immigration Views Have Evolved

President Donald Trump’s views on immigration and building a wall along the Mexico border have evolved since his presidential campaign, the White House chief of staff said Wednesday. Those changes are giving some people hope that a compromise with Congress on the thorny issue is possible. But they are perplexing others — even as the clock ticks down to a showdown. John Kelly made the comments Wednesday at a closed-door meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, participants say, and made similar remarks later on Fox News Channel. They…

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