March 29, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David Byrd reporting.
The head of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee says he will not step aside despite Democrats' calls to recuse himself from the committee's probe into Russian interference in last year's election.
California Republican Devin Nunes says the committee will continue its inquiry even though it has cancelled all scheduled hearings this week.
"We're doing a very thorough job on this investigation. As you know, this Russia issue, we have been on it for many, many years, and so we'll continue to be on the issue."
On Monday, the ranking Democrat on the committee, Representative Adam Schiff, released a statement calling for Nunes to step down, saying it would be difficult for the public to maintain faith in the investigation if it could not be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman.
Last week, Nunes, a member of President Trump's transition team, spoke with reporters and the president about intelligence reports that said Trump transition team members had been caught up in incidental surveillance between November and January.
Nunes acted without informing any of the other 21 members on the house committee, angering Democrats on the committee who then questioned his credibility.
President Donald Trump has signed an executive order aimed at rolling back many of the Obama administration's environmental regulations.
"Perhaps no single regulation threatens our miners, energy workers and companies more than this crushing attack on American industry."
Trump's 2018 budget proposal slashes funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent, including an almost total cut of climate research funds.
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The commander of American forces in Iraq says the U.S. military likely played a role in an airstrike in Mosul, an attack that witnesses said killed more than 100 civilians earlier this month.
Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the commander leading the counter-Islamic State fight in Iraq and Syria, told reporters in a conference call from Baghdad on Tuesday that "there is a fair chance that we did it."
Townsend said Iraqi military leaders "firmly believe" that civilians were gathered by Islamic State ahead of the strike, either to lure the coalition into a trap that would kill civilians or possibly for the extremists' use as human shields.
"The coalition respects human life, which is why we will not abandon our partners in their time of need or because of ISIS's inhumane tactics of terrorizing civilians using human shields and fighting from protected sites, such as schools, hospitals, religious sites, and civilian neighborhoods."
Air Force Brigadier General Matthew Isler has been appointed to lead the civilian casualty credibility assessment of the March 17 attack.
Meanwhile, the U.N. human rights chief is calling on Iraq's military and the U.S.-led coalition to review their tactics in the battle against Islamic State in Mosul.
The U.N. says at least 307 people were killed and 273 others wounded between February 17 and March 22 in western Mosul.
A spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, said Tuesday that Islamic State is committing war crimes by using civilians as human shields.
"Under international humanitarian law, the use of human shields amounts to a war crime. And shooting civilians in the back as they flee for their lives is an act of monstrous depravity."
The U.N. attributed the casualties to all sides [in vi...] involved, that is, in the fight for western Mosul, including Iraqi and coalition airstrikes as well as Islamic State shelling and improvised explosive devices.
U.S. consumer confidence, home prices, and the trade deficit all improved in March, according to economic reports published Tuesday.
Consumer confidence hit a 16-year high as buyers said they were more confident about getting or keeping jobs and the economic outlook in general. The Conference Board said its index jumped more than nine percentage points in March.
A separate report by S&P Case-Shiller showed home prices rose sharply over the past 12 months.
And the Census Bureau said the trade deficit shrank as imports dropped sharply.
All that good news sent stock prices higher on Wall Street, with all three major indices closing up.
I'm David Byrd in Washington.
That's the latest world news from VOA.