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The US and Russia are already contradicting each other about what happened in Trump-Putin meeting



The US and Russia are already contradicting each other about what happened in Trump-Putin meeting

President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit on July 7 in Hamburg, Germany. Source: Evan Vucci/AP

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin emerged from their first in-person meeting with conflicting narratives about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

While Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump kicked off the meeting by bringing up Russia’s hacking in the election, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Trump accepted Putin’s denial that Russia did any meddling at all.

Tillerson said Trump “pressed Putin more than once” on Russia’s meddling, according to CNN’s Jeff Zeleny. But Putin denied that Russia interfered.

“The question is what we do now,” Tillerson said, according to Zeleny. “The relationship is too important to not find a way to move forward.”

Lavrov, however, suggested both sides were now moving on, as Trump accepted Putin’s denial about meddling in the U.S. election.

Trump came under fire Thursday for not fully accepting the U.S. intelligence committees’ unanimous conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Trump has said he thinks Russia meddled, but said others could have as well, and has yet to issue a full-throated public condemnation of Russia’s actions.

Putin, on the other hand, said he spoke to Trump about fighting terrorism and cyber security, according to RT, a state-owned Russian news outlet.

“We’ve had a very long discussion with the U.S. president. Many issues accrued, including Ukraine, Syria and other problems, as well as some bilateral issues,” Putin said, according to RT.

During the meeting, the Associated Press reported that the United States and Russia came to a joint ceasefire in Syria — where the two countries back opposing sides in Syria’s years-long civil war.

Before the meeting kicked off, Trump and Putin sat down to exchange pleasantries while cameras snapped photos and captured video of the world leaders’ interactions.

Trump said it was “an honor” to meet with Putin. Putin said he was “delighted” to meet with Trump.

The meeting, which was scheduled to be 30 minutes long, lasted two hours and 16 minutes, according to a pool of reporters traveling with Trump.


NASA budget jumps $1.6 bn above White House request




Washington, March 24: NASA’s will get $20.7 billion — $1.1 billion more than 2017 funding and $1.6 billion above the White House request — under a spending bill that cleared Congress this week and was signed by President Trump on Friday.

A big beneficiary will be the planned rocket to take astronauts into deep space and onto Mars, the Space Launch System (SLS), which will get $2.15 billion, and the Orion crew capsule, which will launch on top of the SLS, will get $1.35 billion, reported.

According to a report, the NASA funding was part of a $1.3 trillion federal spending package that keeps the government running through the end of fiscal year 2018 — September 30 — after multiple stopgap budgets in recent months.

The budget provides $350 million for construction of a second SLS mobile launch platform, a project which, NASA believes, could shorten the gap between the first and second Space Launch System flights.

Funding for a second SLS launch platform was not included in the White House’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal.

Robert Lightfoot, NASA’s outgoing acting administrator set to retire at the end of April, told a House subcommittee on March 7 that there was insufficient money in the agency’s budget to build a second SLS platform without delaying or canceling other projects.

While responding to a question during the hearing, Lightfoot said that a second SLS mobile launch platform would be better for the program in an “ideal world.”

“I could fly humans quicker, probably in the 2022 timeframe,” with a second mobile launch platform, Lightfoot said.


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Trump moves to ban most transgenders from serving in military



Donald Trump

Washington, March 24: US President Donald Trump has moved to formally ban most transgender persons from serving in the military with limited exceptions, according to a White House memorandum.

The memorandum was issued on Friday night on policies determined by Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, stating that transgender persons were “disqualified from military service except under limited circumstances”, reports The Hill magazine.

The memorandum, filed in the US District Court in Seattle, states that “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria — individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery — are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances”.

Mattis will have some leeway in implementing the policy, the memo states, as will Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen when it comes to the Coast Guard.

The two top officials “may exercise their authority to implement any appropriate policies concerning military service by transgender individuals”, the memo stated.

However, LGBT advocates quickly denounced the move, The Hill reported.

“There is simply no way to spin it, the Trump-Pence Administration is going all in on its discriminatory, unconstitutional and despicable ban on transgender troops,” Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said in a statement.

“The Trump-Pence administration’s continued insistence on targeting our military families for discrimination is appalling, reckless, and unpatriotic,” added American Military Partner Association president Ashley Broadway-Mack.

The Palm Centre, a group that promotes the study of LGBT people in the military, accused the Pentagon of having “distorted the science on transgender health to prop up irrational and legally untenable discrimination that will erode military readiness”.

Trump first called for a ban on transgender troops in a series of tweets last year, and followed up in August by issuing a memo banning transgender people from enlisting.

The ban has since been battled over in court, with Mattis in February giving Trump a final recommendation. It was expected that he would recommend Trump allow transgender troops to remain in the military.

Several federal courts blocked Trump’s initial ban, with one ruling in November that the military would be forced to resume accepting transgender recruits starting this year.

In February, the Pentagon confirmed that one transgender recruit had joined a branch of the military after the ban was lifted due to the court order. That individual passed all tests including medical, officials said.

It was unclear what Trump’s decision will mean for that unnamed recruit and the estimated thousands of other transgender Americans currently serving active duty in the military.

While the exact number of transgender individuals in active duty service is unknown, a 2016 Rand Corporation study commissioned by the Pentagon estimated the number to be anywhere from 1,320 and 6,630, with 830 to 4,160 others serving in the reserves.


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Afghanistan: 15 killed, 50 wounded in car bomb explosion in Lashkargah City

At least 15 killed and 50 were wounded in car bomb explosion in Afghanistan’s Lashkargah City.



Car Bomb

15 killed, 50 wounded in car bomb explosion in Lashkargah City, provincial governor’s spokesman Omar Zwak says. The explosion took place in front of a stadium.

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