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Why did a Fox News program host a Swedish national security commentator who is unknown in Sweden?On a Thursday segment of Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor," host Bill O'Reilly directed a debate over crime and immigration in Sweden. On one side of the issue was a Swedish newspaper reporter Anne-Sofie Naslund, who argued against the notion that immigration was making her country dangerous. On the other side was a man named Nils Bildt, who was identified onscreen and verbally as a "Swedish defense and national security advisor."

Trump says he'll skip the White House Correspondents' Dinner: Is that a bad thing?The announcement, which came one day after the White House blocked a number of news organizations from attending a briefing with the press secretary, marks the latest development in the tumultuous relationship between the new administration and the press. "A few days ago, I called the fake news ‘the enemy of the people,’ and they are.

Who decides on US ground combat in Syria?In coming days, President Trump is expected to decide whether to send thousands of combat troops into Syria to attack Islamic State. If he does seek to put so many American soldiers on the ground, the commander in chief must first get the approval of Congress, where constitutional authority for war belongs. For decades, starting during the cold war and later after the 9/11 attacks, Congress has steadily given up much of its responsibility to define the use of violence in the name of the American people.

Will Tom Perez unite the Democratic party?The Democratic National Committee voted Saturday to select former Labor Secretary Tom Perez to head the group, bring an end to a contentious race that pitted the more centric ideology of the party under former President Barack Obama against the progressive agenda of Sen. Bernie Sanders. Mr. Perez edged out Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who received the backing of Senator Sanders (I) of Vermont, in an unprecedented second round of voting, taking 235 of the 435 votes. In a nod to the party’s more progressive wing, Perez has selected Mr. Ellison to serve as deputy chairman of the party.

South Sudan and the lure of a gleaming new capitalMorocco agreed to fork over $5 million to help the world’s youngest country decide whether it should build itself a brand new capital city. In particular, the South Sudanese wanted to know if it was feasible to pick up their current national government in Juba and transport it about 130 miles north to a sparsely inhabited, swampy patch of land in the geographical center of the country called Ramciel. Across the globe, from Kazakhstan to Nigeria to the United States, many countries have concocted new capital cities soon after independence as a way of quite literally constructing a new national identity – brick by brick.

Businesses step up to help preserve Rome's historyBarely a month goes by in Italy without a major archaeological discovery coming to light. For a country built on the remains of Etruscan ports, Roman cities, and ancient Greek colonies, that is no surprise. Italy is still trying to recover from the global economic crisis and struggles to find the money to look after its 51 World Heritage sites – the most of any country in the world – let alone the thousands of other, lesser-known discoveries.

Why does the race for DNC chairman matter?The Democratic Party’s 447 National Committee members elected former Obama labor secretary Tom Perez to be their new party chair on Saturday, in an unusually contentious race for what amounts to the top job for a party in transition. Mr. Perez, a favorite with the more centrist wing of the party allied with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, won 235 votes to the 200 captured by Rep. Keith Ellison (D) of Minnesota, a favorite with progressives who was leading slightly in polls coming into Saturday, according to CNN. The son of Dominican immigrants, Perez will become the first Latino to hold the post.

White House blocks reporters from a briefing, shrugging off another unwritten customSeveral major news outlets, including the New York Times, CNN, and the Los Angeles Times, were blocked from an off-camera press briefing on Friday, igniting furious criticism from media organizations. The White House said it was adhering to ordinary press customs by holding an "expanded pool," but observers call the incident another sign of the troubled relationship between President Trump and the media. A restricted non-televised briefing, or "gaggle," replaced an earlier-planned full, on-camera briefing in the official White House briefing room, reported Politico.

Obama for president – of France?Apparently American Democrats are not the only ones missing Barack Obama. Some citizens of France have launched a new grassroots campaign called "Obama17" that is seeking 1 million signatures in the next three weeks, to convince the former US President to run for president in France. Amid a presidential election marked by scandals and surprises, the organizers hope the campaign, though not serious, could be a voice for the people calling for change – just as many other campaigns have done before.

Southeast Asian security on surer footing, In defense of referendums – but reformed, The misconception of lone wolf far-right terrorists, A fresh start for Somalia?, The resonance of Obama's farewell speech“[Japanese] Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s summit with U.S. President Donald Trump reinforced the security guarantees iterated by U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis on his visit to Japan and South Korea the week before...,” writes Stephen R. Nagy.

Readers write: Marmalade origin, rugby injuries, correct punishmentThe Dec. 19 essay in The Home Forum, “Marmalade worthy of Paddington Bear,” mentions quince as only one of the fruits used to make marmalade, but it didn’t give the origin of the word “marmalade.” Marmalade in Portugal, explains my husband, who was born and brought up there, is made from the marmelo, which is quince.

Kim Jong-nam killed by nerve agent, Malaysian police say, putting spotlight on chemical weaponsKim Jong-nam, the North Korean Supreme Leader’s estranged and exiled half-brother, was killed by a VX nerve agent, which is classified by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction, Malaysian police said on Friday. This latest development in Mr. Kim’s assassination, which South Korean and US officials have said they believe was decreed by Pyongyang, is another reminder of the regime’s secretive chemical weapons program, often overshadowed by its nuclear missile testing. “The reported use of VX reminds us that not only is the North’s nuclear-missile threat serious but so are its asymmetric threats, including biochemical weapons and cyber that are all part of the regime’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) tool kit,” Duyeon Kim, a fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, told The New York Times on Friday.

Trump team tries to calm US-Mexico relations. Why that's not easyNothing raises nationalist hackles in Mexico like talk of United States military acting south of the border or targeting Mexican citizens. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who joined Mr. Tillerson for high-level meetings in the Mexican capital this week, was quick to try to tamp down the growing angst. Recommended: How much do you know about Mexico?

Sessions memo: Reversal on private prisons could portend shift on justice, observers sayPrivate prisons could be here to stay, Jeff Sessions signaled on Thursday. In a memo to the Bureau of Prisons Thursday, the attorney general rolled back Obama-era guidance in which then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates directed the BOP not to renew contracts with private prisons. The move may not have a significant impact immediately: The BOP has contracts with just 12 private facilities, housing only about 21,000 of the nearly 190,000 inmates in federal prisons, according to the Justice Department.

Victim in Kansas shooting hailed as a hero for 'standing up to hate'Witnesses at Austins say patron Adam Purinton was kicked out of the bar for directing racial slurs at two Indian men, also dining at the bar. Mr. Purinton later came back with a gun and told the two men to, “Get out of my country,” before opening fire, according to witness reports. Mr. Grillot said he took cover and began to count the shots to estimate when the shooter would run out of bullets.

Could Betsy DeVos be an ally for transgender students? It's complicatedIn the “bathroom bill” debate, LGBT students may have found an unlikely ally in the Trump administration: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The newly minted secretary of Education reportedly balked at President Trump's efforts to reverse an Obama-administration directive that folded gender identity under Title IX protections. Ms. DeVos eventually fell in line with the rest of the administration on the issue, but she later took care to emphasize her dedication to preventing discrimination and bullying against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, in an echo of her earlier work toward promotion of LGBT rights.

Can parental spyware keep kids safe online?For parents concerned about what's happening on their kids' smartphones, there are a growing number of apps for monitoring children's digital lives. 

Ivanka Trump pushes $500 billion child care subsidy plan: Who would benefit?First daughter Ivanka Trump is asking Congress to rein in child-care expenses – but at a hefty price. According to a report from Bloomberg News, Ms. Trump met with members of Congress in the White House’s Roosevelt Room last week to discuss her plans for a child care tax benefit which could cost as much as $500 billion over 10 years. Ms. Trump's proposal is very similar to the plan proposed by Mr. Trump in September: Child-care expenses for individuals earning less than $250,000 annually (or couples earning less than $500,000 annually) would be deductible from income taxes.

Once suspect, Trump now a hero at conservative 'Woodstock'Donald Trump has not always been a hero at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering that’s something of a Woodstock for the right-leaning faithful. On Friday President Trump was welcomed to CPAC 2017 as a conqueror home from the political wars. “Big thing Trump proved with his unlikely wins is that ideology doesn’t matter anymore in politics.

In Mexico, momentum grows to put out welcome mat for  'Dreamers'Before Maggie Loredo left her home in Georgia’s Dalton County for her grandfather’s house in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, she called the office of the Mexican public education secretariat. If I want to apply to a public university, she asked, but I grew up in the United States, which documents am I going to need? At the time, in 2008, that sounded alluringly simple to Ms. Loredo, who had lived without legal status in the US since she was a toddler.

As famine threatens, an unprecedented global challenge – and responseThe challenge is unprecedented. Twenty million people in four countries face famine in the next six months, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned this week, unless the world steps in with $4.4 billion. “Millions of people are barely surviving in the space between malnutrition and death” in war-wracked Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria.

Trump administration sets sights on state recreational marijuana lawsThus far into his presidency, President Trump has largely ignored the legalization of recreational marijuana. “I do believe you’ll see greater enforcement of it,” said Mr. Spicer. Eight states – Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Maine – and Washington, D.C. have legalized both medicinal and recreational marijuana.

Critic of Duterte's anti-drug crusade charged with receiving bribes from drug lordsPhilippine Sen. Leila de Lima has been one of the harshest critics of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. Now, she herself has been charged with receiving bribes from drug dealers. Senator de Lima has announced that she will submit to arrest and face the charges.

Meeting hate with love in St. LouisAfter vandals damaged nearly 200 tombstones in a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis last weekend, it wasn’t only Jews who rose up to denounce the act of hate. Muslim groups helped raised more than $120,000 to repair the damage and offered a reward to catch those responsible. Some 2,000 people – Jews, Christians, and Muslims – helped clean up the mess.

CPAC dismisses Richard Spencer: How conservatives are severing alt-right tiesRichard Spencer, a white nationalist and a leader of the so-called "alt-right" movement, says he has been booted from the Conservative Police Action Committee (CPAC) by organizers who disagree with his views. A controversial figure, Spencer is credited with coining the term alt-right, which refers to a branch of the right-wing that has roots in white supremacy. Spencer has also addressed crowds where his cry of "Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!" was met with what looked like Nazi salutes.

What do those red Xs on Facebook mean?Facebook users may have noticed a sudden proliferation of red Xs in their news feeds on Thursday, thanks to a campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking.

Behind raucous town halls, a return to messy roots of democracy?Across the United States, Republican representatives have been enduring unruly "town hall" meetings, facing down angry questions from constituents unhappy with their handling of President Trump's new administration. Some GOP lawmakers have even canceled town hall appearances or opted for teleconferences in order to avoid the outpouring of protests. Town halls, especially in smaller districts, can be poorly attended, even dull events.

Museum or church? St. Isaac's becomes bone of contention in RussiaThe immense, golden-domed St. Isaac's Cathedral dominates the skyline of historic St. Petersburg, occupies a special place in the hearts of its citizens, and is a main tourist attraction. It's been a state museum for 80-plus years, is a UNESCO heritage site, and receives 4 million paying visitors per year.

Where next for Putin and Trump?, China: storming the seas by stealth, Nigeria's forgotten violence, The world must take a stand, Peace can prevail in Cyprus“The latest flare-up of violence in Eastern Ukraine ... is not about changing the status-quo or a warming-up for ... another major escalation,” writes Vladimir Frolov. “It is an inescapable result of the fog of war, which the Minsk peace agreements [have] failed to completely stop.... [T]he Kremlin was quick to use the episode to remind the Trump administration that the Ukraine crisis demands the urgent attention of the superpowers.... It isn’t clear whether Moscow is interested in making the concessions that Trump seems to be expecting.... But Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview ... that Russia was prepared to ‘walk her part of the road’ towards better relations with the US.

In Somali diaspora, lessons for refugees – and their host countriesFor Casiman Abdullahi, Jan. 30 was a very good day. After four years, this was to be one of the very last steps in his application to leave South Africa, where he had been a victim of xenophobic violence, for the United States. Recommended: Think you know Africa?

This man has created a different kind of urban school for students of colorShould an urban school serving black and Hispanic students try to emulate schools for affluent white kids? In many struggling cities like Oakland, Calif., the answer has been no. That’s true in the regular public schools, where resources often don’t exist to replicate programs offered at high-income suburban or private schools, as well as among the crop of urban charter schools intent on making up for those resource deficits. Urban charter schools have been stereotyped as embracing a boot camp-like environment that elevates test prep and tough discipline, while playing down arts and athletics.

The logistical case for Trump's deportation plan – and the legal case against itWhen the Trump administration outlined its rationale this week for ramping up immigration enforcement, it cited the “unacceptable” delays that currently plague the country’s immigration courts. The department’s resources are already “significantly strained,” the DHS memo noted – even as it outlined plans to deport and detain a far broader range of illegal immigrants than the Obama administration. The Trump administration has promised a “surge” of immigration judges and asylum officers to handle the long-standing backlog, with additional plans to allocate billions for a massive border wall, new detention centers, and thousands of newly hired border and enforcement officers.

Pulling out of ICC would be unconstitutional, South African court rulesSouth Africa was poised to leave the International Criminal Court in October, making it the first state to withdraw from the human rights tribunal. On Wednesday, a South African court ruled that the government cannot pull South Africa from the ICC without parliamentary consent. Siding with the opposition Democratic Alliance party, High Court Judge Phineas Mojapelo told the government that its withdrawal notice was “unconstitutional and invalid” without that consent, and ordered it to be torn up.

Why Trump inauguration singer wants a private meeting with the presidentJackie Evancho, the teenage singer who performed the national anthem at President Trump’s inauguration in January, is “disappointed" with the president’s decision to roll back Obama-era guidelines on transgender bathroom rules in public schools. Take the quiz!

With explosion in upscale mall, terror attacks continue in PakistanA bomb detonated in an upscale shopping center in the Pakistani city of Lahore on Thursday has killed at least eight people and wounded 20 others, in the latest of a blitz of terror attacks to strike cities across the country. Since then, suicide bombers claiming affiliation with multiple Islamic groups have also struck a courthouse in northwestern Pakistan and a famed Sufi shrine in the southern province of Sindh, with the total death toll reaching well over 100. Recommended: How much do you know about Pakistan?

Survey says the majority of Americans trust the media over TrumpIn a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, 52 percent of respondents chose the media over Mr. Trump when asked who they trusted to "tell you the truth about important issues." Just over one-third, 37 percent, reported finding Trump more trustworthy. Recommended: Are you smarter than a Fox News viewer?

Flood waters force thousands from homes in Northern CaliforniaHit by a once-in-100 years flood, more than 14,000 residents near the swollen Coyote Creek that runs through San Jose, Calif., were ordered to evacuate on Wednesday. While some were able to return to their homes early Thursday morning as the water levels began to subside, an evacuation order remained for some parts of the city, a hub of high-tech Silicon Valley. Recommended: Are you a weather nerd?

Hundreds protest in Anaheim after an off-duty cop fired shots at teensHundreds of protesters took to the streets of Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday to express their outrage after a video surfaced that appears to show a local police officer roughing a young teen and eventually firing his weapon. The protest followed a Tuesday incident, in which an off-duty, white Los Angeles police officer allegedly fired shots in an altercation with a group of Latino teenagers who had walked across his lawn. Recommended: Can you pass the written police officer exam?

Cressida Dick becomes Scotland Yard’s first female top copSenior counter-terrorism officer Cressida Dick was named chief of police in London on Wednesday, making her the first woman to head a 31,000-member force in what is often considered the top police job in Britain. Ms. Dick, a former assistant commissioner of the force who left in 2015 to join Britain's Foreign Office, led the security operation for the 2012 London Olympics, and is highly regarded by many ordinary officers. Among main longer-term challenges are likely to be budget pressures and the need to incorporate diverse communities into the work of a predominately white force, a priority for London Mayor Sadiq Khan, according to The Guardian.

Md. appeals court upholds 'assault weapon' ban: a new challenge to scope of Second Amendment?A Maryland law banning so-called assault rifles survived its day before a federal appeals court Tuesday, marking a victory for gun control advocates that could bring the question of whether military-style weapons receive Second Amendment protection before the nation’s highest court. At its core, the argument examines whether or not weapons such as AR-15s and AK-47s are the kind of firearms necessary for legal purposes, such as self-defense, or if they constitute “dangerous and unusual” weapons that have been historically prohibited in some states.

Trump's been quieter lately. Is that a trend?On Tuesday, for instance, President Trump went to the African-American Museum in Washington, and the visit seemed ... normal. Mr. Trump walked the halls like any respectful visitor, paying particular attention to Nat Turner’s Bible and an exhibit on boxer Muhammad Ali. Nothing more important,” Trump said.

In age of Trump, apocalyptic rhetoric becomes mainstreamThe longer President Trump is in office, the more Cat Deakins worries about the future – for herself and her children. With every executive order and cabinet appointment, she envisions another scenario: an America that rejects immigrants, that succumbs to climate change, that erupts in war. “It’s scary to me that [people within the administration] are promoting this idea of, ‘We are at war with Islam.’ That’s the kind of thinking that leads to World War III," says Ms. Deakins, a cinematographer in Los Angeles.

Larry Nassar, former USA gymnastic coach, is charged with sexual assaultDr. Nassar, who specialized in treating female gymnasts at Michigan State University and through the USA Gymnastics organization, faces charges in two Michigan counties, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct in 2015 against a victim younger than 13 years old. The high-profile allegations against Nassar, which he has denied, come at a time of renewed national debate over sexual abuse and gymnastics.

Erdoğan fans an Islamic nationalism in bid to build Ottoman-style influenceThey portray themselves as the “average Joes” of Turkish politics: a builder-handyman and his fiancée, a cleaner, who both work for the same small Istanbul company that has been going through tough times.

Turkey lifts ban on headscarves in the militaryTurkey will allow female military officers and cadets to wear headscarves with their uniforms, provided that they don’t cover the face or have patterns. Other military forces, including the US Army, are also adjusting dress and grooming standards to accommodate religious personnel. In a country where 99 percent of the population is officially Muslim, the Turkish military’s decision to allow Islamic headgear might appear to be common sense.

Faster play: how pro baseball commissioner hopes to speed up America's pastimeMany of the rule changes the MLB is interested in – including implementing a 20-second pitch clock, and forcing the ball into play more rapidly while also limiting visits to the pitcher's mound made by players, coaches, and managers – are geared towards reducing slow moments between action in Major League Baseball. Mr. Manfred is also contemplating shrinking the size of the strike zone by raising the line to above the knee. The announcement, divisive among fans and critics and panned by players, came just two days after Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), said he saw no need for substantive rule changes in the game of baseball.

Trump’s mixed message on immigration: An opening for a deal?Despite a raw partisanship in American politics right now, a new poll by Morning Consult/Politico finds that both Democratic and Republican voters – about 70 percent – want political leaders to compromise to “get things done.” If lawmakers choose to reflect that cooperative spirit among voters, they could start with immigration. Despite President Trump’s executive actions on immigration – a travel ban on those from certain countries, an order to build a wall with Mexico, and a wider net to catch those in the country illegally – he has also begun to walk back some of his rhetoric on unauthorized migrants. “There was an almost universal interest in addressing our lauded immigration system,” Sen. John Cornyn (R) of Texas told CNN about the White House meeting.

Judge stalls Texas efforts to defund Planned ParenthoodPlanned Parenthood will remain eligible for Medicaid funds in Texas until a court rules on the merits of the state's case against the organization, a federal judge has determined. On Tuesday, US District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin granted Planned Parenthood an injunction, temporarily blocking state lawmakers' efforts to terminate around $4 million in Medicaid reimbursements for non-abortion services to the organization. Texas will likely appeal the judge’s decision to grant an injunction, according to state Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican.

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