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Donald Trump inducts 2 Women in his Cabinet: Indian-American South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Charter School Advocate Betsy DeVos

The appointment of both women, as with Trump's other Cabinet selections, requires Senate confirmation

From left, Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump's choice for education secretary, and Nikki Haley, Trump's choice for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. VOA

November 23, 2016: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump named his first two women for Cabinet-level positions Wednesday – South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as the country’s ambassador to the United Nations and charter school advocate Betsy DeVos as his secretary of education.

Haley, the 44-year-old daughter of Indian immigrants, is serving her second term as governor of the mid-Atlantic state, but has no foreign policy experience. DeVos, from the midwestern state of Michigan, is the chair of the American Federation for Children, a group that has aggressively sought to expand the number of charter schools and voucher programs in the U.S. to allow students to attend private schools with taxpayer money.

The appointment of both women, as with Trump’s other Cabinet selections, requires Senate confirmation.

In naming Haley, Trump cited her seven overseas trade missions for South Carolina and negotiations with… Click To Tweet

FILE - South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley gestures while speaking at the Federalist Society's National Lawyers Convention, Nov. 18, 2016, in Washington. VOA
FILE – South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley gestures while speaking at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention, Nov. 18, 2016, in Washington. VOA

In naming Haley, Trump cited her seven overseas trade missions for South Carolina and negotiations with international companies.

“Governor Haley has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country,” Trump said in a statement. “She is also a proven dealmaker, and we look to be making plenty of deals. She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”

Devos, a school choice advocate

The president-elect declared that under Devos’s leadership, “we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families.” She is a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican party.

President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Betsy DeVos pose for photographs at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. VOA
President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Betsy DeVos pose for photographs at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. VOA

Some education reformers in the U.S. champion the use of charter schools, which they view as favorable to mass public education to give impoverished children a chance to attend better schools with more personalized instruction. But the president of the country’s biggest public teachers’ union, Lily Eskelsen Garcia of the National Education Association, immediately attacked Trump’s appointment of DeVos, a billionaire philanthropist.

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Eskelsen Garcia said DeVos’s efforts “over the years have done more to undermine public education than support students. She has lobbied for failed schemes, like vouchers — which take away funding and local control from our public schools — to fund private schools at taxpayers’ expense.”

Haley, a Republican, did not support Trump during the months-long Republican presidential nominating campaign. She initially backed Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and when he dropped out of the race, shifted her support to Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

Shortly before the November 8 election, she said that she was not enthusiastic about the choice between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton to take over the White House when President Barack Obama’s term ends in January, but that she would vote for Trump.

She criticized his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States and used the national platform giving the Republican Party’s response to Obama’s last State of the Union address to rebuke Trump’s style by saying, “Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference.”

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Trump called her “weak on immigration” and in March wrote on Twitter, “The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!”

The two met last week in New York where Trump has been interviewing potential Cabinet members to join his new administration. In addition to Haley and DeVos, he has picked Republican party chairman Reince Priebus as his chief of staff, Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon as chief White House strategist, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general, Congressman Mike Pompeo to lead the Central Intelligence Agency and retired Army General Michael Flynn as his national security adviser.

FILE - Stephen Bannon, campaign CEO for President-elect Donald Trump, leaves Trump Tower in New York. VOA
FILE – Stephen Bannon, campaign CEO for President-elect Donald Trump, leaves Trump Tower in New York. VOA

Trump eyes Carson for HUD

Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and another Republican presidential candidate Trump defeated, said he has been offered a Cabinet position as housing and urban development chief, but it is not clear whether he plans to accept. The president-elect described Carson, an African-American, as “a greatly talented person who loves people.”

FILE - Dr. Ben Carson speaks during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 19, 2016. VOA
FILE – Dr. Ben Carson speaks during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 19, 2016. VOA

Like Haley, other Republican party figures were lukewarm at best to Trump’s candidacy before backing him against Clinton. Among his critics was House Speaker Paul Ryan, who now is celebrating Trump’s victory and the opportunity for Republicans to control both houses of Congress and the White House.

On Tuesday, Trump told a meeting of reporters and editors at The New York Times that party leaders are “loving” him.

“Paul Ryan right now loves me, [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell loves me. It’s amazing how winning can change things,” he said.

Trump also touted the field of people he is considering for key positions in his government, including the possible appointment of another one-time critic, 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, as secretary of state.

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“We have many people for every job,” Trump said. “I mean no matter what the job is, we have many incredible people.”

Trump also told the Times he is “seriously” considering retired General James Mattis as his secretary of defense.

Most recent presidents have not named their most high profile Cabinet nominees — secretaries of state, defense, treasury and attorney general — until sometime in December. Obama did so by December 1 after his first election in 2008, while his predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton waited until the last week in December.

Trump’s inauguration is set for January 20. (VOA)

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Trump Endorses Short-Term Bipartisan Fix For Obama Care


Washington, October 18: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday expressed support for a bipartisan initiative to restore the Obama Care subsidies he suspended last week.

“We have been involved and this is a short-term deal because we think ultimately block grants going to the states is going to be the answer,” Trump told reporters at the White House, Efe news reported.

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wa.) announced on Tuesday an accord “in principle” to re-instate for two years the cost-sharing reduction payments, known as CSRs, that Trump halted last week.

The proposal would at the same time give states “more flexibility in the variety of choices they can give to consumers”, Alexander said.

Alexander, the chair of the Senate Health Committee, received encouragement from the President last weekend for his attempt to find common ground with the Democrats.

“Lamar has been working very, very hard with … his colleagues on the other side, and, Patty Murray is one of them in particular, and they’re coming up, and they’re fairly close to a short-term solution. The solution will be for about a year or two years, and it will get us over this intermediate hump,” Trump said on Tuesday.

Trump signed an executive order last Thursday loosening some of the requirements set down for health insurance plans by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the signature domestic policy initiative of his predecessor Barack Obama.

He signed another directive terminating the CSR payments late Thursday night.

The President, who vowed to repeal and replace the ACA – popularly known as ObamaCare – has grown frustrated by the failure of the Republican-controlled Congress to pass a bill undoing the 2010 legislation.

“This takes care of the next two years,” Alexander said of his and Murray’s proposal. “After that, we can have a full-fledged debate on where we go long-term on health care.”

Murray, meanwhile, said that the plan would protect people from sharp increases in premiums resulting from Trump’s decision to end the CSR payments.

“Overall we are very pleased with this agreement,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said, praising the deal for including “anti-sabotage provisions” to prevent the administration from undermining the ACA.

The Republican lawmakers were reluctant to comment on the Alexander-Murray accord.

“We haven’t had a chance to think about the way forward yet,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after meeting with his Republican colleagues.

Despite his encouraging words for Alexander, Trump kept up his criticism of the ACA.

“Obama Care is virtually dead. At best you could say it’s in its final legs. The premiums are going through the roof. The deductibles are so high that people don’t get to use it. Obama Care is a disgrace to our nation and we are solving the problem of Obama Care,” he said. (IANS)


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Facebook Chief Operating Officer Supports Releasing Russia-linked Advertisements

Facebook chief
Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, delivers a speech during the visit of a start-up companies gathering at Paris' Station F, in Paris. voa

Washington, October 12: Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said Thursday she “absolutely” supports the public release of all advertisements produced by a Russia-linked organization during the 2016 presidential election.

Sandberg said the company is “working on transparency” following the revelation last month that a group with alleged ties to the Russian government ran $100,000 worth of ads on Facebook promoting “divisive” causes like Black Lives Matter.

“Things happened on our platform that shouldn’t have happened,” she said during the interview with Axios’s Mike Allen.

Later Thursday, Facebook Chief Operating Officer is set to meet with Congressional investigators who are looking into what role the advertisements which began running in 2015 and continued through this year may have played in the 2016 presidential election.

The $100,000 worth of ads represent a very small fraction of the total $2.3 billion spent by, and on behalf of, President Donald Trump and losing-candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaigns during the election.

Multiple congressional investigations have been launched, seeking to determine what effect alleged Russian meddling may have played in the election.

In addition, Robert Mueller, a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is conducting a criminal probe, including whether President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian operatives during the election season. Trump has denied working with the Russians.

Facebook had previously agreed to disclose the thousands of Facebook ads to congress. Sandberg said Thursday she thinks “it’s important that [the investigators] get the whole picture and explain that to the American people.”

In response to the Russian ad buys, Facebook Chief Operating Officer said that company is hiring 4,000 new employees to oversee ads and content. She said the company is also using “machine learning and automation” to target fake accounts that spread fake news.

She defined fake news as “things that are false hoaxes” and said Facebook is working to stamp out the bad information by teaming up with third-party fact checkers and warning users before they share news deemed fake by Facebook.

She said it is important to be cautious when going after fake news because “a lot of what we allow on Facebook is people expressing themselves” and “when you cut off speech for one person, you cut off speech for all people.”

“We don’t check the information posted on Facebook before people post it, and I don’t think people should want us to,” she said.

Hundreds of fake accounts were used to distribute the Russia-linked advertisements, Sandberg said. But had those ads been posted by legitimate users, “we would have let them run,” she said.(VOA)

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Donald Trump Expands Travel Ban, Restricts Visitors from 8 Countries

Donal Trump
President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before boarding Air Force One at Morristown,Municipal airportN.J. (source: VOA)

Washington, September 25:— The revised US travel ban will restrict travellers from eight countries to visit the United States, says an order signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday. The new travel ban, which takes effect on, October 18, will restrict residents of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.

According to the U.S. officials, these countries have refused to share information about terrorism and other issues with the United States.The new travel ban drops Sudan from the list but adds Chad, Venezuela and North Korea to the original six Muslim-majority countries.

The announcement late Sunday came as Trump’s previous temporary travel ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries was expiring, 90 days after it went into effect. The earlier order had barred citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S. unless they had a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

US President Donald Trump’s travel ban inflicts “Significant harm” on Muslim Americans

Reaction to the president’s order from human-rights organizations and other groups that work with immigrants was largely negative.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said the latest version of the “Muslim ban” that Trump tried to introduce on taking office earlier this year as part of the administration’s “ugly white supremacist agenda.”

Trump said in the new proclamation: “As president, I must act to protect the security and interests of the United States and its people. The restrictions announced are tough and tailored, and they send a message to foreign governments that they must work with us to enhance security.”

Trump last week called for a “tougher” travel ban after a bomb partially exploded on a London subway.Trump last week called for a “tougher” travel ban after a bomb partially exploded on a London subway.