DC Roundup: Trump in Israel, Trip to Vatican, Flynn Won’t Cooperate

Developments over the weekend concerning President Donald Trump include his visit to Israel and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; his upcoming trip to the Vatican; planned program cuts to balance the federal budget; the approval of his ambassador to China, also, fired National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is refusing to hand over documents pertaining to a Senate investigation of Russian meddling in last year's presidential election:

Trump Assails Iranian Aggression on Visit to Israel � U.S. President Donald Trump assailed Iranian aggression and military ambitions Monday on his first visit to Israel as the American leader, drawing quick approval from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump attacked the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama for agreeing to the 2015 international deal restraining Iran's nuclear weapons program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions against Tehran, a pact the Jewish state adamantly, but unsuccessfully, opposed.

Trump Becomes First US President to Visit Jerusalem's Western Wall � Trump touched the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Monday, the first visit at the Jewish holy site by a serving American leader, and one that is steeped in the centuries-old conflicts of the Middle East. Trump, a Christian wearing a black yarmulke, walked alone to the massive stone wall after hearing a brief history of the holiest site in Judaism. He placed his right hand on the wall for about 30 seconds and then, as is custom, tucked a small prayer note into a crevice.

Trump to Make Understated Vatican Visit � Trump and his wife, Melania, arrive Wednesday at the Vatican for a planned 20-minute audience with Pope Francis and Roman Catholic Church leaders they will be received with far less pomp than in Saudi Arabia. The pope is scheduled to hold his regular general audience in St. Peter's Square shortly after meeting Trump.

Proposed Trump Budget Spares Old-age Programs, Slashes Other Items � Trump is proposing to balance the federal budget within 10 years by slashing many social programs, including some that help the poor pay for food and medical care, called food stamps and Medicaid.

Flynn Pleading the Fifth No Surprise to Lawmakers � U.S. lawmakers of both political parties have told VOA they are not surprised by media reports that President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, will refuse to hand over documents pertaining to a Senate investigation of Russian meddling in last year's presidential election.

Sicily Braces for G-7 Amid Fears � The 11,000 people who live in the picturesque town of Taormina on Sicily's Ionian coast, usually keen to see tourists, especially the monied and famous, would have much preferred if Trump and the other G-7 'immortals' had decided to give their small cliff-top town perched above rocky inlets a miss. This year's G-7 summit, the 43rd annual gathering of the leaders of the world's most advanced economies, begins Sunday.

UN Official: Islamic State's Days Numbered in Iraq � The United Nations' top diplomat in Iraq said the so-called Islamic State's days "are numbered" in that country and the liberation of the city of Mosul is "imminent." Head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq, Jan Kubis, told Security Council members Monday, "The liberation of Mosul is imminent," he said of the terror group's last stronghold in Iraq.

Branstad Confirmed as Ambassador to China � The U.S. Senate has confirmed Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as the next ambassador to China. The confirmation came by a bipartisan vote of 82 to 13 Monday, with all 13 of the votes against the Republican president's nominee coming from Democrats.

Homeland Security: Half a Million Visitors Overstayed Visas in 2016 � The Department of Homeland Security has accounted for the departures or change in legal status of nearly 50 million individuals from around the world who were supposed to leave between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2016; but by early this year, the agency determined 544,676 people (1.07 percent) didn't leave when their visas expired, didn't adjust their status (as would be the case of, for example, an asylum seeker who came as a tourist), and remained in the country at the end of the last fiscal year.

US Gives Haitian Immigrants 6-month TPS Extension � The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Monday announced it has extended Haitian immigrants' access to a program of humanitarian protection for six months. At least 50,000 Haitian immigrants are registered for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which permits them to live and work in the United States. TPS, offered in the wake of a deadly 2010 earthquake in Haiti, was set to expire July 23. It has been extended through January 22 � though some U.S. lawmakers, Haitian authorities and immigration advocates who'd sought a longer term expressed disappointment.

US Again Condemns Actions of Turkish Security Personnel Over Violence During Erdogan Visit � The U.S. State Department has again condemned the actions of Turkish security personnel during last week's visit to Washington by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as Turkey summoned the U.S. ambassador to Ankara over the incident.

UN Security Council Scrambles to Address Latest N. Korean Missile Launch � The United Nations Security Council has called another emergency session to address North Korea's latest ballistic missile test. Uruguay's mission to the world body said the meeting, the second in as many weeks, is set for Tuesday and was requested by the United States, South Korea and Japan. South Korean analysts said the latest missile was fired Sunday afternoon from South Pyeongan province and traveled about 500 kilometers before landing in the Sea of Japan.

Trump May Have Limited Options Dealing with North Korean Nuke Program � Bomb. Acquiesce. Or negotiate. These are probably the only options available to prevent North Korea from developing a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM.) And the only option that has any reasonable chance of success is to pursue a deal similar to the 2015 Iran nuclear accord that was called the worst deal ever by then-candidate Trump. These are some of the insights and recommendations made by non-proliferation expert Robert Litwak during a recent talk he gave at an East Asia Foundation Seminar in Seoul about his book entitled Preventing North Korea's Nuclear Breakout.

Supreme Court: 2 Voting Districts in North Carolina Unconstitutional � The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that North Carolina placed too much of an emphasis on race when two congressional districts were created in 2011. In its decision, the high court said too many African-Americans were placed in those two Democratic districts in an improper effort to dilute their political strength elsewhere in the state and protect Republican congressional seats.

Source: Voice of America