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Israeli PM Netanyahu declines Senate Democrats’ invitation to meet during U.S. visit

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined on Tuesday an invitation to meet with U.S. Senate Democrats during his trip to Washington next week.

“Though I greatly appreciate your kind invitation to meet with Democratic Senators, I believe that doing so at this time could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit,” Netanyahu wrote in a letter to Senators Richard Durbin and Dianne Feinstein obtained by Reuters.

Durbin and Feinstein, two senior Senate Democrats, invited Netanyahu to a closed-door meeting with Democratic senators in a letter on Monday, warning that making U.S.-Israeli relations a partisan political issue could have “lasting repercussions.”

Republican congressional leaders broke diplomatic protocol by consulting neither the White House nor Democrats in Congress before inviting Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of the House of Representatives and Senate.

Netanyahu has faced criticism at home and abroad for his decision to address the U.S. Congress two weeks before Israeli elections and at a sensitive point in international negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.

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In his letter, Netanyahu said he agreed “wholeheartedly” that strong ties between the United States and Israel have been built on bipartisan support. “I also fully understand the importance of bipartisan support for ensuring that our alliance remains strong in the future,” he wrote.

He expressed appreciation for the opportunity to address lawmakers from both parties on Tuesday and said he regretted that the invitation has been perceived by some as partisan.

“I can assure you my sole intention in accepting it was to voice Israel’s grave concerns about a potential nuclear agreement with Iran that could threaten the survival of my country,” Netanyahu wrote.

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He said he would be glad to address a bipartisan meeting of senators during a future visit to Washington.

Spokesmen for Durbin and Feinstein could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Doina Chiacu)


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Nicolle Wallace explains Trump’s racist attacks are covering his cozy relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and Michael Cohen scandal

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MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace began her Wednesday show saying that President Donald Trump has made it official by making his brand one of "racism." But it prompted her to wonder if his racist attacks against four congresswomen of color could be more about deflecting from other scandals.

Wednesday morning, MSNBC released a video of Trump partying with alleged child molester and rapist Jeffrey Epstein. Trump is seen groping women and slapping their posterior. The first round of Epstein's alleged crimes were downgraded by Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and he was given 13 months in a county jail for just 8 hours, six days a week.

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Trump wasn’t the first president to confront the Supreme Court – and back down

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A key presidential election is approaching. The U.S. Supreme Court hears a case with powerful political implications. The court rules, but the populist president doesn’t care. Our national commitments – to the Constitution, to morality, to the rule of law – seem at risk.Then, the president backs down. The nation survives.

This might be the story of President Trump’s short-lived threat to get a citizenship question on the census in defiance of the Supreme Court. Instead, it’s the story of President Andrew Jackson and Worcester v. Georgia, decided in 1832.

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Fatal drug overdoses drop in US for first time in decades

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Fatal drug overdoses in the US declined by 5.1 percent in 2018, according to preliminary official data released Wednesday, the first drop in two decades.

The trend was driven by a steep decline in deaths linked to prescription painkillers.

"The latest provisional data on overdose deaths show that America's united efforts to curb opioid use disorder and addiction are working," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, though he cautioned the epidemic would not be cured overnight.

The total number of estimated deaths dropped to 68,557 in 2018 against 72,224 the year before, according to the figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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