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A picture worth a thousand words.  Read more.

A picture worth a thousand words. Read more.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2019

 Klamath Basin News & Wx, click here

 

The governor of Kentucky along with local civic leaders in the area of Covington, Kentucky are sticking by their students who visited Washington D.C.  Catholic High School is reopened today, after safety concerns shuttered it Tuesday in the wake of a videotaped encounter involving its students, Native American marchers, and black activists in Washington.

Police officers will be stationed across campus through the evening and will remain in place as long as needed.  The school said it closed school following, "threats of violence" against the students.  Meanwhile, the school is promising a third-party investigation into what happened.

Demonstrators led by Native American advocates gathered outside the Roman Catholic diocese of Covington, Kentucky on Tuesday. They said they wanted to turn Friday's confrontation into a teachable moment.

At one point, both sides appeared to reconcile their differences. A person in a "Make America Great Again" hat shook hands with a Native American man and suggested they sit down and share a cup of coffee or a meal.  

Multiple videos have emerged of Friday's incident, some showing a radical group known as the Black Hebrew Israelites taunting the group of Covington Catholic High School students with some of the worst smearing slurs possible.  The Covington students who had just participated in a March For Life anti-abortion rally, were waiting for a bus, ready to leave when they were nearly attacked.  The media also ran with coverage and condemned the students without any investigation or watching further footage of the incident.

But it was one moment between Native American activist Nathan Phillips and Covington student Nick Sandmann that caused outrage.  Some believed Sandmann was being disrespectful, but he said he was helping to defuse the situation. Sandmann said he had every right to be there, be standing there, and wasn’t going to let anyone judge him or his MAGA hat.

"As far as standing there, I had every right to do so. I don't – my position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips. I respect him. I'd like to talk to him," Sandmann told the "Today Show."

The Twitter account that helped spread the initial video has been removed by Twitter. The user -- @2020Fight -- claimed to be a teacher and advocate named Talia from California with a photo appearing to show Brazilian model and actress Natalia Cardoso.

In a statement, a Twitter spokesperson said "deliberate attempts to manipulate the public conversation on Twitter by using misleading account information is a violation of the Twitter rules."

"The lesson here is really to question, what is the genuine source of this content and how is it being framed? And then, how is that framing elevated by the news media that you're looking through?" said Louise Matsakis, who writes about cybersecurity and online culture for Wired.

There were some questions as to where the account originated from and we're told Twitter has every indication that it was a U.S.-based account. Natalia Cardoso has not commented publicly on the controversy. 

House Intelligence lawmakers are reportedly asking Twitter about how the initial video came to be so widely viewed so fast.

The White House said it's reached out to the Covington Catholic students and hasn't ruled out inviting them back to Washington.

 

In a news survey out today by CBS NEWS, seven in 10 Americans don't think the issue of a border wall is worth a government shutdown, which they say is now having a negative impact on the country.  But the reality is, the government must open up soon and Democrats and Republicans are going to have to start doing their job instead of playing partisan politics every day.  

Neither side wants to budge and it’s the same with people that were polled.  65 percent of Republicans say President Trump should refuse a budget unless it includes wall funding, and 69 percent of Democrats think congressional Democrats should keep refusing to fund it.

Among Americans overall, and including independents, more want to see Mr. Trump give up wall funding than prefer the congressional Democrats agree to wall funding.  Stay tuned.

 

Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019

The government shutdown continues into it’s 23rd day today as Democratic lawmakers so far have rejected President Donald Trump’s proposal over the weekend, to extend some non-permanent protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and individuals with Temporary Protected Status in exchange for border wall funding.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fellow Democrats see the lack of a permanent solution for the individuals impacted by these programs as a deal-breaker.

The plan Trump proposed also includes $800 million for urgent humanitarian assistance and $805 million for drug detection technology to secure ports of entry, as well as additional border agents, law enforcement officials and new immigration judge teams to deal with cases of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border.

But all of this is on the condition that he receives $5.7 billion for a border wall — the central point of contention between Democrats and Republicans in the fight to re-open the government.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court said today it will allow President Donald Trump's partial ban on transgender people serving in the military to take effect while court challenges continue.  Responding to Justice Department requests, the high court Tuesday cleared away lower court actions that blocked the controversial policy from being implemented for nearly a year. 

But the justices refused to hear the case before the Trump administration fights its way through federal appeals courts, which will leave the legal questions surrounding the action unresolved for now.

The order represents a victory for the administration, which has railed against nationwide injunctions issued by local judges. Similar injunctions have thwarted efforts to deport undocumented immigrants who arrived as children, as well as asylum-seekers who cross the border illegally.

The justices refused to hear the administration's appeal in the transgender troops case, which means lower court challenges can proceed. Four district court judges have blocked the policy, but a federal appeals court last week reversed one of those injunctions.

The high court's action followed that ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. It ruled that the policy had been fine-tuned by Pentagon officials over a period of months and no longer constituted a "blanket ban."

Trump announced the policy in July 2017 with a tweet that said the government "will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military." He was upset by the costs incurred by the Pentagon for troops transitioning from one gender to the other.

Pentagon officials later reassured transgender troops that they would not be kicked out and that their medical care would not be interrupted until the policy was rolled out. Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis unveiled it in March, with exceptions for those already serving and recruits who are not transitioning to the opposite sex.

Last week's appeals court ruling took note of those changes and others.

"The government took substantial steps to cure the procedural deficiencies the court identified in the enjoined 2017 presidential memorandum," the panel said. In addition to relying on Pentagon officials' expertise, the judges said, the ban "appears to permit some transgender individuals to serve in the military."

The Pentagon reiterated in a statement Tuesday that the policy is not a complete ban and that transgender troops will continue to be treated with respect and dignity.

"The Department of Defense’s proposed policy is based on professional military judgment and will ensure that the U.S. armed forces remain the most lethal and combat-effective fighting force in the world,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Jennifer Levi of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders said the court's action "means that courageous transgender service members will face discharges while challenges to the ban go forward.

"The Trump administration’s cruel obsession with ridding our military of dedicated and capable service members because they happen to be transgender defies reason and cannot survive legal review," Levi said.

With the policy blocked until now, dozens of transgender recruits have signed up since becoming eligible Jan. 1, 2018. They are among several thousand transgender troops estimated to be serving in the active-duty force of more than 1 million, according to a Rand Corp. study commissioned by the Pentagon in 2016. 

 

The Oscar nominations are out.  Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma" and Yorgos Lanthimos' "The Favourite" have led all films with 10 nominations each heading to the 91st Academy Awards.

The nominees for best picture are: "A Star Is Born," ''Roma," ''Green Book," ''The Favourite," ''Black Panther," ''BlacKkKlansman," ''Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Vice."

With "Roma," Netflix has scored its first best picture nomination, something the streaming giant has dearly sought. Marvel, too, joined the club with "Black Panther," the first superhero movie ever nominated for best picture.

The Oscars are Feb. 24.  Following Kevin Hart's exit as emcee, the telecast is still currently host-less.

 

Monday, Jan. 21, 2019

Today is Martin Luther King Day, a federal holiday held on the third Monday of January. It celebrates the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr., the famous American civil rights leader. He is most well-known for his campaigns to end racial segregation on public transport and for racial equality in the United States.

Today is seen as a day to promote equal rights for all Americans, regardless of their background.  Some educational establishments mark the day by teaching their pupils or students about the work of Martin Luther King and the struggle against racial segregation and racism. In recent years, federal legislation has encouraged Americans to give some of their time on this day as volunteers in citizen action groups.

Martin Luther King Day, also known as Martin Luther King’s birthday and Martin Luther King Jr Day, is combined with other days in different states. For example, it is combined with Civil Rights Day in Arizona and New Hampshire, while it is observed together with Human Rights Day in Idaho.

Martin Luther King was an important civil rights activist. He was a leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the United States. His most famous address was the "I Have A Dream" speech. He was an advocate of non-violent protest and became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated in 1968.

In 1968, shortly after Martin Luther King died, a campaign was started for his birthday to become a holiday to honor him. After the first bill was introduced, trade unions lead the campaign for the federal holiday. It was endorsed in 1976. Following support from the musician Stevie Wonder with his single "Happy Birthday" and a petition with six million signatures, the bill became law in 1983. Martin Luther King Day was first observed in 1986, although it was not observed in all states until the year 2000. In 1990, the Wyoming legislature designated Martin Luther King Jr/Wyoming Equality Day as a legal holiday.

 

California’s Kamala Harris, likely a frontrunner, announced today she is running for president in 2020, arguing that the time has come to fight against what she views as the injustices of the past two years of the Trump presidency.  She’s one of already eight Democrats seeking to run against Trump.

In a brief video from her campaign that was released on social media Monday morning at the same time she appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America," Harris called on her supporters to join with her to "claim our future."

"Justice. Decency. Equality. Freedom. Democracy. These aren't just words. They're the values we as Americans cherish. And they're all on the line now," Harris said in the video, teasing her official kickoff in her birthplace of Oakland.

 

The U.S. Postal Service is raising rates.  Within a week, the Postal Service will be implementing new postage rates.

Starting January 27th Americans will see a change in price for domestic mailing, shipping and international shipping.  The rrice for select mailing service products will be going up 2.5 percent.

There will also be a 5 cent increase in the price of a first class mail forever stamp from 50 cents to 55 cents.

Officials say the increase will keep the postal service competitive while providing the agency with needed funds.

 

 

 

New England and the L. A. Rams will be in the Superbowl.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was done with the trophy presentation, done with the locker room celebration, done with his news conference and questions about the four second-half and overtime touchdown drives, the ninth Super Bowl appearance and the 41 years of age he continues to defy.

He wore a New England Patriots AFC championship T-shirt, a face that was still a bit burnt from the brutally cold wind and a smile of satisfaction that these epic victories, including Sunday’s 37-31 overtime win eliminating the Kansas City Chiefs.

Then Brady wanted to find Patrick Mahomes, the young Chiefs quarterback.

 “I just wanted to say hello,” Brady said. “I didn’t get to see him on the field.”

So Brady followed NFL and Chiefs security through a back door of the Chiefs’ locker room, until they found the 23-year-old likely MVP who had pushed and pushed and pushed the great Tom Brady to the limits.

The meeting wasn’t long. A few positive words and some elder praise for the next generation. The gesture was what mattered. The respect shown was what counted.

“He’s a great player,” Brady said. “He played a great game.”

The league could one day belong to Mahomes to run. Many thought it already was. He’s electrified the NFL with no-look passes and scrambling cross-field prayers. Yet as many unearthly plays as the kid can make, on this night he found himself like so many others before him, running into the most immovable force in football.

And then there’s Tom Brady, who sure as hell isn’t done yet.

Brady threw for 348 yards here Sunday, quarterbacking six scores with a patchwork offense that many left for dead at multiple times this season (after a listless loss in Detroit, and after a bad effort in Pittsburgh. The Patriots dominated the stat sheet – 524 yards to 290, 36 first downs to 18, 43 minutes, 59 seconds time of possession to 20:53, 94 plays to 47.

They needed every last yard and play and tick of the clock to first figure out and then wear down the Chiefs’ defense.  It was like watching the Superbowl.

Now it’s on to Atlanta to take on the Rams.

 

In West Palm Beach, Florida, police say that an officer ran over two people who were lying on a dark roadway to watch Sunday night’s lunar eclipse.   In a statement to the media, West Palm Beach Police said the man and the woman were treated at a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

Police said around 11:30 p.m., at the height of the eclipse, the officer was patrolling in a park and driving around 5 mph when his vehicle struck the pair.

The statement said the man and the woman live nearby. Because the park was “extremely dark,” officials believe they were trying to watch the eclipse when they were run over.  The officer was placed on administrative leave. Police said the man and the woman were both 24 years old; their names were not released.

 

Friday, Jan. 18, 2019

President Trump delivered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a dose of her own medicine yesterday when he abruptly denied her to use military aircraft for a foreign trip just minutes before the congressional delegation was set to depart.  Obviously it was a stunning decision that followed Pelosi’s letter to Trump denying him his regular State of the Union address to Congress amid this government shutdown.

In a curt letter, Trump said her trip has been “postponed.”

“Due to the Shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over.  In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate,” Trump wrote.

Everyone is talking and twittering over the way President Donald Trump cancelled Pelosi’s congressional junket led while the plane sat ready on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, yesterday.

In Pelosi’s mind she’s denying him a forum to talk to the American people while at the same time lecturing Congress about the need for enhanced border security.

To Trump though, that really doesn’t matter. The chance to play hardball with the Speaker is something his base will embrace says one insider, and, if he and his closest communications advisers are smart, they’ll recognize this for the opportunity it is.

The Constitution does require the president to periodically report to Congress on the “State of the Union.” But it’s only been since the time of Woodrow Wilson at the beginning of the progressive era that presidents have regularly gone to Capitol Hill to address Congress directly.

In the age of the podcast, Twitter and Facebook Live, the idea of a speech delivered off a teleprompter from a rostrum inside the House chamber is an anachronism. As things are now, Trump can talk to them directly and send Congress his message by email.

One can imagine the most creative minds inside the West Wing are already at work trying to figure out a better venue, of which there are many. Pelosi has ceded control of the optics. The Democrats can’t boo, can’t refuse to rise when the GOP offers standing ovations, and they can’t walk out en masse or even in small groups when he says something which strikes them as outrageous if they’re not there.

Trump could give the speech from East Room in the White House, with members of the press and people for whom the illegal immigration crisis struck home in attendance. Imagine the impact if he were able to call out or even have people rise who were themselves victims of crimes committed by people who were in the United States after illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border. How hard would it be to find people who fit this profile who live in New York, which is represented in the U.S. Senate by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, or from Nancy Pelosi’s piece of San Francisco or her hometown of Baltimore, Maryland where her father was for many years the mayor.  Stay tuned.

 

U.S. federal government contractors could be losing up to $200 million in delayed or foregone revenue each day the shutdown drags on.

In some cases, some contractors have completed work but their invoices can’t be processed as the responsible government agencies, departments or offices are closed.

This is now beginning to be felt in the wider economy some economists warned today.  Earlier this week, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Kevin Hassett, indicated that with so many government contractors affected, there was a bigger impact on economic growth than earlier anticipated:

"We’ve been watching the actual effects, and noticing that the impact that we see on government contractors is bigger than the sort of staff rule of thumb anticipated. And we subsequently, right now, think that it’s about a tenth of a percent a week, not a tenth of a percent every two weeks".

The CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, warned that if the partial government shutdown extends beyond the first quarter, the U.S. economic growth rate could plummet to zero. The chief executive of the largest U.S. bank by assets blamed the shutdown on politics saying getting out of the current quagmire was up to the politicians.  Politicians need to sit together and work it out. Order pizza and don’t come out til you get a resolution.

 

Tesla has big trouble.  Saying the road ahead was "very difficult," Tesla's CEO Elon Musk said Friday that the company would be cutting its staff by about 7 percent.

The electric car and solar panel maker notified its employees about the staff cuts and other plans in an email posted on Tesla Inc.'s website.

Musk said Tesla hopes to post a "tiny profit" in the current quarter but a 30 percent expansion in its workforce last year was more than it can support.

Tesla's shares tumbled earlier this month after it cut vehicle prices by $2,000 and announced fourth-quarter sales figures that fell short of Wall Street estimates.

"Our products are too expensive for most people," Musk said in the memo to Tesla staff. saying the company has to "work harder."

"Tesla has only been producing cars for about a decade and we're up against massive, entrenched competitors," he said.  Musk said in a tweet in October that Tesla, based on Palo Alto, California, had 45,000 employees. A 7 percent cut would involve laying off about 3,150 people.

"We unfortunately have no choice but to reduce full-time employee headcount by approximately 7 percent ... and retain only the most critical temps and contractors," he said.

The company says it delivered over 245,000 electric cars and SUVs last year, nearly as many as all previous years combined. But its 2018 production fell far short of a goal set nearly three years ago of manufacturing 500,000 vehicles for the year.  That goal was announced in May of 2016 based on advance orders for its mid-range Model 3, which Musk said sells for $44,000.

Musk said Tesla plans to ramp up production of the Model 3, "as we need to reach more customers who can afford our vehicles."


Tesla broke ground earlier this month for a factory in Shanghai, its first outside the United States. Musk said it plans to begin production there of the Model 3 and a planned crossover by the year's end.    Tesla and other global automakers including General Motors Co., Volkswagen AG and Nissan Motor Corp. are pouring billions of dollars into manufacturing electric vehicles in China.

 

Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019

The plot thickens a bit today for President Donald Trump as in front of investigators and the media, former "fixer" Michael Cohen said today that he paid the head of a small technology company thousands in 2015 to rig online polls at "the direction of and for the sole benefit of" Trump. 

Cohen responded that he paid John Gauger, the owner of RedFinch Solutions, between $12,000 and $13,000 for activities related to Trump's campaign, including "trying unsuccessfully to manipulate two online polls in Mr. Trump's favor" and creating a Twitter account called "@WomenForCohen" that "praised (Cohen's) looks and character, and promoted his appearances and statements boosting" Trump's candidacy.

In making the claim, Gauger told the paper he wasn't fully paid for the work, though the Journal said Cohen was reimbursed $50,000 -- the amount the two originally agreed on for Gauger's services -- by the Trump Organization. Gauger, according to the paper, also received a boxing glove "worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter" along with the cash payment.

The paper said that Cohen denied paying Gauger in cash, instead telling the Journal that "all monies paid to Mr. Gauger were by check" and declining to comment further. The Trump Organization did not comment to the Journal. Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for Trump, told the paper that the allegation that Cohen received more money than what he paid to Gauger shows he's a "thief."

Cohen said his actions were "at the direction of and for the sole benefit of Donald J. Trump. I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn't deserve it."

An attorney for Gauger said they would not comment further on the Journal's story.

The Journal said that Cohen's reimbursement was made around the same time that he received a $130,000 reimbursement from Trump for expenses incurred during the 2016 election. Cohen has publicly broken with Trump since cooperating with the Mueller investigation. He is expected to testify before the House Oversight Committee next month and is prepared to discuss topics related to hush money payments and aspects of the Trump Organization, including the roles of the President and his children, a source familiar with the matter has said.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they are studying the possible link between prescription opioids and horrific birth defects.

Babies born with the defect have their intestines hanging outside the stomach, due to a hole in the abdominal wall. Surgery is often needed to fix it.

Roughly 1,800 such cases are seen in the U.S. each year, but the number has been rising.

A study released Thursday noted cases were 60 percent more common in counties that had highest opioid prescription rates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study focused on 20 states.

The study does not say opioids caused the cases. But it echoes earlier research that found a higher risk of birth defects when moms took opioid painkillers like oxycodone just before, or early in, pregnancy.

 

In Southern California, the LA teachers union and the Los Angeles Unified School District will return to the bargaining table tomorrow, in an effort to resolve the issues leading to the teachers strike.

More than 30,000 teachers went on strike Monday as the two sides were unable to reach an agreement on issues that include class size reductions, hiring more support staff and salary increases.

By the end of the strike's third day, the district said it has lost $69 million in state revenue payments that are based on student attendance.

Student attendance saw its sharpest drop of the week on Wednesday.

On the first day of the strike, attendance was 156,774 and by Tuesday it had increased to 171,480.  But by Day 3, attendance saw a sharp drop, to 132,411 students, a decrease of 22 percent from the day before.

 

 

Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019

It has been reported this morning that several American service members have been killed in a bomb blast in Syria.  The deaths were reported and confirmed by the U.S. military.  The number of casualties is unconfirmed.  A U.S.-led coalition were ambushed in an explosion while conducting a routine patrol.

“We are still gathering information and will share additional details at a later time,” the spokesperson said.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the blast, which occurred in the northern city of Manbij, saying one of its members carried out a suicide attack and detonated a vest with explosives, according to reports.

“The President has been fully briefed and we will continue to monitor the ongoing situation in Syria,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. She deferred all other questions to the Department of Defense.

Wednesday’s deadly incident comes about one month after President Donald Trump ordered 2,000 U.S. troops to leave Syria, as the White House declared victory over ISIS. But since then, there has been growing confusion over the withdrawal plans, as the administration shifted from a 30-day timeline to one that is now “conditions-based” to include the enduring defeat of ISIS, protection for the Syrian Kurds, and assurance that Iran can’t increase its influence in the region.

Trump cited the hardship of speaking with families who had lost loved ones in a video produced on the White House lawn the day he announced the withdrawal, saying “I get very saddened when I have to write letters or call parents or wives or husbands of soldiers who have been killed fighting for our country. It’s a great honor. We cherish them but it’s heartbreaking.”

The president’s surprise announcement last month led to an outcry from U.S. partners and allies and a series of high-level resignations, namely that of former Defense Secretary James Mattis who felt the U.S. was abandoning its allies and partners in the region.

One of the chief concerns has been how to protect the Kurds, a group that’s been a critical U.S. partner in the fight against ISIS but which Turkey views as terrorists.

 

Sticking to her guard, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today offered no solution for the border wall vs. government shutdown issue facing America, but suggested to reporters that President Trump delay his scheduled State of the Union address, which is coming next week.

In a letter to the president tdaoy, Pelosi proposed the delay because the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security, the agencies designated to provide security for the Jan. 29 event, and have not been funded for 26 days.

“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th,” Pelosi wrote.

There was no response from the White House.

 

It’s a lot of weather from the west heading into Oregon which will receive heavy rain storms, and in California and Nevada it will be a storm that starts today set to dump up to seven feet of snow in California's Sierra Nevada mountains and several inches of rain elsewhere, forcing evacuations in areas at risk to mudslides.

The first storm will hit the west coast and bring to Los Angeles and Ventura Counties p to 4.5 inches in the Santa Monica Mountains, the National Weather Service reports today.  

Police may issue evacuations from areas damaged by last year's wildfires because of the risk heavy rain would trigger mud and debris flows on charred hillsides.

As much as seven feet of snow was possible over 6,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada mountains including Reno and Lake Tahoe, Nevada, which will get several feet of snow today. The weather is a boon for area farmers and ski areas, given most of the state is recovering from years of drought.

 

Verizon provider subscribers will now get free Apple Music for being a Beyond Unlimited and Above customer beginning next week.

Starting on January 17th, all new and existing customers will be able to enjoy Apple Music at no additional cost. So, those who took advantage of the offer last year will be able to continue accessing the streaming service without having to pay its $10-a-month fee.   According to Verizon VP of Marketing Angie Klein, the company is expanding its partnership with Apple Music, because the original 6-month offer was a hit with customers. Its cheapest option, Go Unlimited, will still come bundled with free access to the service, but only for six months.

 

 

White House Looks to Chip Away at Democrats’ Resolve as Record Shutdown Rolls On

The stalemate continues between the White House and Democrats on the border wall dollars vs. the government shutdown.  President Trump considers inviting rank-and-file Democrats frustrated by length of impasse

The White House is looking to peel off rank-and-file Democrats from the leadership, administration officials said, in a bid to strike a deal giving President Trump the border-wall funding he demands as options for reopening the government narrow.

White House officials said there were no meetings planned this week with the two top Democrats leading negotiations over the shutdown, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York, neither of whom have shown any sign they will yield...   Stay tuned.

 

TSA Staff Shortage Makes Travel More Miserable for U.S. Passengers

The TSA's unplanned absence rate on Monday was more than double that on the same day a year ago.  As the partial government shutdown extended into its 24th day, airports and passengers are feeling the impact at more and more airports.   How long before airports shut down terminals are only days away, say airlines experts.

 

Monday, Jan. 14, 2019

PG&E announced Monday that it is preparing to file Chapter 11 Bankruptcy as it deals with lawsuits following devastating wildfires in California the last two years.

The announcement comes one day after the utility's CEO resigned.

"The company does not expect any impact to electric or natural gas service for its customers as a result of the Chapter 11 process. PG&E remains committed to assisting the communities affected by wildfires in Northern California, and its restoration and rebuilding efforts will continue," the company said in a statement.

It does appear that the company is preparing for potential liabilities from the roles it may have played in the 2017 Tubbs Fire and 2018 Camp Fire.

Consumer advocates are concerned that customers could be picking up the bill.

"It's completely disingenuous for PG&E to pretend that its only way out is customers. They're not a public company. We didn't make the decisions that led to this and we didn't share the profits that they've been taking in all along while they've neglected their tree-trimming," said Mindy Spatt, with Utility Reform Network.

PG&E employees will continue to get paid and receive health care benefits during the Chapter 11 process.

On Sunday, PG&E CEO Geisha Williams stepped down. In the meantime, John Simon will serve as Interim Chief Executive Officer. Simon has been with the company since 2007, and served as the Executive Vice President and General Counsel since 2017.

Barricades have been set up in front of PG&E's offices in San Francisco. Security guards had no comment on why the barricades were put up.

 

About 30,000 Los Angeles Unified School District teachers set up for their strike Monday morning.  Teachers with the United Teachers Los Angeles union will gather for a rally this morning to bring awareness and will then head to downtown Los Angeles, where they will march from City Hall to LAUSD headquarters.  Over the weekend, the union prepared for the historic strike by making signs and other items they will hold on the picket line.

The teachers union has a range of issues that have not been resolved with the district that include salaries, reduced class sizes and hiring more nurses and other essential school personnel.

The strike comes after the union rejected LAUSD's latest deal on contracts. The last time teachers went on strike with LAUSD was 30 years ago.   District officials said despite the strike, schools will remain open and class instruction will continue. Officials also said hot meals will be served.

"Los Angeles Unified schools will be open providing every student with a safe and welcoming learning environment. Elementary, middle and high schools will be open, instruction will continue, and meals will be served tomorrow and throughout the UTLA strike. Early education centers will only be open to special-needs students and state preschool sites will be closed.

"Los Angeles Unified remains committed to contract negotiations and will continue to work around the clock to find solutions to end the strike which will hurt students, families and communities most in need throughout Los Angeles," a district statement said.
 

As we get closer to the Superbowl, it’s the musical acts are today, finally official: Maroon 5, Big Boi and Travis Scott will perform at this year's Super Bowl halftime show in Atlanta.

Maroon 5 had been the widely reported halftime show act since September, but the NFL didn't confirm the band as its headliner until Sunday.  Typically one of the most fiercely sought gigs in music, the Super Bowl halftime show has this year been the subject of boycott and protest.  Numerous acts have turned down the NFL in support of Colin Kaepernick and other players who have taken a knee during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice.

Gerald Griggs, vice president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP, has said the NAACP asked performers who have signed up to reconsider their participation.  More than 84,000 have signed an online petition urging Maroon 5 to withdraw from the Super Bowl "until the league changes their policy and support players' constitutional right to protest."

Billboard reported that Scott, who reportedly signed on in December, only agreed to perform if the NFL made a joint donation to an organization fighting for social justice.  With the NFL, Scott made a $500,000 donation to Van Jones' Dream Corps.
 

For what it’s worth, most Americans say President Trump is responsible for the government shutdown in a new poll.   The partial government shutdown, spurred by a battle over building a border wall, is now the longest in American history, and it's clear whom most Americans hold responsible: President Donald Trump.   An ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that finds 53 percent of those surveyed pin the blame on Trump, and the Republicans in Congress, while just 29 percent blame the Democrats.
 

The Saudi teen granted asylum after fleeing a family she claimed abused her has arrived in Canada.   A week ago, Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, tried to fly to Australia, where she planned to apply for asylum, but was stopped at an airport in Thailand, where authorities took her passport.  She barricaded herself in a Bangkok hotel room, publicly pleaded for help on social media and demanded U.N. intervention. It gained popularity on Twitter and now she’s in Canada today.


On this day in history:   Jan. 14, 1999 -- President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial got underway in the Senate.

 

Friday, Jan. 11, 2019

Found alive.  The missing 13-year-old Wisconsin girl kidnapped after her parents were found murdered in their home last October has been found alive, police say.

Jayme Closs was reunited with family members last night.  She was found in Gordon, Wisconsin.  Few details have been made available by authorities.

Jayme’s aunt and godmother, Jennifer Smith, told “Good Morning America” Friday that they would be reunited after Jayme is released from the hospital in the afternoon.

“I hear she’s doing great and getting rest right now,” said Smith, who added she’ll be meeting with FBI investigators Friday to learn more details. “All I know is that she escaped from where she was being held, saw a lady walking a dog and ran to the lady asking for help.”

The woman who found Jayme — who asked that her name not be used — walked with Jayme to the home of Peter and Kristin Kasinkas, who offered Jayme food and water and called 911.

A suspect has been taken into custody, the Barron County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release. Police did not release any other details about the arrest but did say a citizen phoned in the information that led to Jayme’s discovery.

 

One of America’s busiest airports is in trouble because of the government shutdown.  Miami International Airport is closing a terminal this weekend because security screeners have been calling in sick at twice the airport’s normal rate as the federal government shutdown stretches toward a fourth week.   They had been working without pay but calloffs are now the norm.

Friday marks the first day screeners will miss a paycheck, and airport spokesman Greg Chin said there’s a concern there won’t be enough workers to handle all 11 checkpoints during normal hours over the weekend.

Chin said Terminal G will close at 1 p.m. Saturday, reopen for flights Sunday morning and close again at 1 p.m. that day. The terminal serves United Airlines along with smaller carriers. Its closure means restaurants and shops that depend on departing flights also will close.

“We felt we had to make a decision before the weekend,” Chin said. “They’re erring on the side of caution.”

Chin told reporters today that some passengers have complained about longer waits, but there’ve been no abnormal security delays.

The security line outside Terminal G was relatively calm mid-morning Friday where about 20 people waited in line as a single security agent manned the checkpoint.

Terminal G is the slowest concourse at the airport, with about 12 planes a day flying out after 1 p.m. That’s about 3 percent of the roughly 450 flights that depart each day. Terminal G’s flights will be diverted to other terminals this weekend.

But Chin said that if the shutdown continues and additional screeners don’t show up for work, the airport could be forced to close a security checkpoint at terminals that have multiple entry points, such as Concourse J or Concourse D.

 

 President Trump visited with border patrol agents to hear that the number of illegal immigrants coming over the borders in several Texas locations are in the hundreds each day.  Hundreds.  Trump has asked the Army Corps of Engineers to examine potentially diverting money from other projects to pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The president says he may decide soon to declare the border area a national emergency.    The administration is also exploring having the Department of Homeland Security request the funds from the Pentagon so that it can carry out its mission.

  • White House officials are divided over whether Mr. Trump should declare a national emergency to fund the wall and end a partial government shutdown. Some top aides have cautioned against it, including Mr. Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, who said it would “let Congress off the hook,” officials said.
  •  
  • President Trump traveled to McAllen, Texas, to meet with Border Patrol agents working without pay Thursday. The president said he was canceling his planned trip to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this month, citing the border-security and shutdown negotiations.
  •  
  • The shutdown, now entering its 21st day, is poised to become the longest in modern U.S. history Saturday. Many lawmakers say the advice from voters back home is shaping how they proceed.

 

Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019

The government shutdown continues with no negotiations working while as the same time, President Donald Trump is taking the shutdown battle to the U.S.-Mexico border, seeking to bolster his case for the border wall.

Trump said yesterday’s meeting when nowhere for the American people.

"I said bye-bye," he tweeted soon after - as efforts to end the partial government shutdown fell into deeper disarray. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers now face lost paychecks on Friday.

"The Opposition Party & the Dems know we must have Strong Border Security, but don't want to give 'Trump' another one of many wins!" Trump tweeted on Thursday before departing for Texas.

During his stop today in McAllen, Texas, Trump will visit a border patrol station for a roundtable on immigration and border security and will get a security briefing on the border. But Trump has expressed his own doubts that his appearance and remarks will change any minds, as he seeks $5.7 billion for the wall that has been his signature promise since his presidential campaign.

McAllen is located in the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest part of the border for illegal border crossings.

The unraveling talks prompted further speculation about whether Trump would declare a national emergency and try to authorize the wall on his own if Congress won't approve the money he's seeking.

"I think we might work a deal, and if we don't I might go that route," he said.

The White House meeting in the Situation Room ended after just 14 minutes.  Democrats said they asked Trump to re-open the government but that he told them if he did they wouldn't give him money for the wall. Republicans said Trump posed a direct question to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: If he opened the government, would she fund the wall? She said no.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Trump slammed his hand on the table. However, Republicans said Trump, who handed out candy at the start of the meeting, did not raise his voice and there was no table pounding.

One result was certain: The shutdown plunged into new territory with no endgame in sight. The Democrats see the idea of the long, impenetrable wall as ineffective and even immoral. Trump sees it as an absolute necessity to stop what he calls a crisis of illegal immigration, drug-smuggling and human trafficking at the border.

Trump headed to Capitol Hill earlier Wednesday, seeking to soothe jittery Republican lawmakers. He left a Republican lunch boasting of "a very, very unified party," but GOP senators have been publicly uneasy as the standoff ripples across the lives of Americans and interrupts the economy.

During the lunch, Trump discussed the possibility of a sweeping immigration compromise with Democrats to protect some immigrants from deportation but provided no clear strategy or timeline for resolving the standoff, according to senators in the private session.

GOP unity was tested further when the House passed a bipartisan spending bill, 240-188, to reopen one shuttered department, Treasury, to ensure that tax refunds and other financial services continue. Eight Republicans joined Democrats in voting, defying the plea to stick with the White House.

There was growing concern about the toll the shutdown is taking on everyday Americans, including disruptions in payments to farmers and trouble for home buyers who are seeking government-backed mortgage loans - "serious stuff," according to Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate Republican.

Some Republicans were concerned about the administration's talk of possibly declaring a national emergency at the border, seeing that as an unprecedented claim on the right of Congress to allocate funding except in the most dire circumstances.

"I prefer that we get this resolved the old-fashioned way," Thune said.

Democrats said before the White House meeting that they would ask Trump to accept an earlier bipartisan bill that had money for border security but not the wall. Pelosi warned that the effects of hundreds of thousands of lost paychecks would begin to have an impact across the economy.

"The president could end the Trump shutdown and re-open the government today, and he should," Pelosi said.

Tuesday night, speaking to the nation from the Oval Office for the first time, Trump argued that the wall was needed to resolve a security and humanitarian "crisis." He blamed illegal immigration for what he said was a scourge of drugs and violence in the U.S. and asked: "How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?"

Democrats in response accused Trump appealing to "fear, not facts" and manufacturing a border crisis for political gain.

In an off-the-record lunch with television anchors ahead of his speech, Trump suggested his aides had pushed him to give the address and travel to the border and that he personally did not believe either would make a difference, according to two people familiar with the meeting. But one person said it was unclear whether Trump was serious or joking. The people familiar with the meeting insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the meeting publicly.

 

At the Capitol Building today, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has been elected to serve as the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator Graham tweeted his response to the news by saying in part quote, “I’m honored to be selected as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary. I will do my best to continue down the path charted by Senator Grassley of having a fair and vibrant committee process.”

The confirmation of conservative judges will be one of my top priorities as Chairman.

 

An arrest has been made in the scandal of a homeless man, who has been at the center of a GoFundMe account, that raised more than $400,000 in his name has been arrested in Philadelphia, according to reports.

Johnny Bobbitt, 34, who allegedly conspired with former couple Kate McClure, 28, and Mark D’Amico, 39, to create a heartwarming story that would inspire thousands of well wishers to donate money to their cause, was arrested Wednesday.  A New Jersey judge issued a warrant for Bobbitt’s arrest when he failed to attend a mandatory court appearance in Burlington County, New Jersey, on Tuesday.  The Burlington County prosecutor’s office will begin extradition proceedings to bring Bobbitt to New Jersey.

McClure and D’Amico allegedly met Bobbitt at a Philadelphia casino in 2017, about a month before the ill-fated GoFundMe campaign was created in November of that year, claiming that Bobbitt gave his last $20 to McClure when she ran out of gas on a Philadelphia highway.

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina announced in November that the story, intended to tug at the hearts and wallets of Americans, was “predicated on a lie.”

Bobbitt, D’Amico and McClure were all charged with second-degree theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception, according to prosecutors.  McClure’s attorney told reporters in November that she was duped as well, adding that McClure took part in the fabrication to help Bobbitt. D’Amico’s attorney did not return requests for comment after the charges were filed.

 

 

Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019

Newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California reminded America and the media last night she will never vote for dollars to build a wall.  Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer offered up their weak response to President Trump’s request for funding to protect our southern borders after his primetime address to the nation from the Oval Office.

In fact, while talks are happening daily, both sides are showing no progress on making a deal to open the government while dealing with illegal immigration, which both sides see as a priority.  Talks continue today, but getting it resolved is  a distance away.

For more than 20 years, Washington politicians on both sides of the aisle have been sitting on the issue.

Trump worked over Christmas while Nancy Pelosi vacationed in Hawaii. The president plans a trip to the border tomorrow to hear more ideas from Border Patrol officers on the ground.

The president made clear in his address to the nation from the Oval Office that he is determined to confront this crisis at the border now by offering noble, commonsense solutions that the professionals on the border are asking for.

President Trump’s remarks were straightforward and to the point. Women and children are most harmed by this humanitarian crisis on our southern border. This is not a manufactured crisis or waste of money, as the Democratic leaders in Congress have falsely and irresponsibly asserted.

The president stated that about 300 Americans are killed by heroin every week, 90 percent of which flows through our southern border. This must not be allowed to continue.

Two years into the Trump administration, the American people are eager to put an end to this dangerous situation on our border with Mexico and so is the president of the United States. But the defenders of the failed status quo in the Washington swamp aren’t budging.  How many more people in our country – like police officer Ronil Singh and Kate Steinle – must be tragically killed by illegal immigrants before politicians on Capitol Hill finally take action?   Stay tuned.

 

Turkey’s president threatens U.S. plans to leave Syria.  President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened military strikes against American allies fighting in the region and angrily refused to meet this week with John Bolton, President Trump's national security adviser.  Mr. Bolton had called for Turkey to protect a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia that Ankara calls a terrorist organization, and his failure to strike a deal with Turkey could delay a U.S. withdrawal indefinitely.  The White House’s efforts to get U.S. troops out of Syria is complicated and Turkey says it will be more complicated without their help.

 

With the continued government shutdown, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that food stamp recipients will have access to their full benefits for February, even if the partial government shutdown continues.

USDA said they will work with states to load benefits onto recipients’ cards by Jan. 20, just within the deadline for a provision that allows them to pay out benefits, even without a budget.

Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Brandon Lipps told reporters they expect to pay out the full $4.8 billion in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits for February, which should cover full benefits for all 44 million Americans that use the program commonly known as food stamps.

“I know there’s been genuine concern across America as to what will happen to these benefits as the government shutdown continues,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters on Tuesday night.

“You’ve heard me say before our motto here at USDA is to ‘do right and feed everyone.’ With this solution I think we’ve got the feed everyone part handled and I believe that the plan we’ve constructed takes care of the do right part,” he said.

People who use food stamps will be able to access them earlier than usual. USDA officials said this is similar to how they can issue benefits early during natural disasters and states will have to accelerate their normal process to distribute the benefits early.

 

From the hard to believe file, Phoenix, Az police have served a search warrant to get DNA from all male employees at a long-term care facility there where a patient in a vegetative state for years gave birth, triggering reviews by state agencies and highlighting safety concerns for severely disabled or incapacitated patients.

Hacienda HealthCare owns the facility and said Tuesday that it welcomed the testing.

“We will continue to cooperate with Phoenix police and all other investigative agencies to uncover the facts in this deeply disturbing, but unprecedented situation,” the company said in a statement.

The woman had been in a vegetative state for more than 10 years after a near-drowning, delivered a baby on Dec. 29.   It’s unclear if staff members at the facility were aware of her pregnancy until the birth.  Officials with the San Carlos Apache tribe of southeastern Arizona said the 29-year-old woman was an enrolled tribal member.

“On behalf of the tribe, I am deeply shocked and horrified at the treatment of one of our members,” tribal chairman Terry Rambler said. “When you have a loved one committed to palliative care, when they are most vulnerable and dependent upon others, you trust their caretakers. Sadly, one of her caretakers was not to be trusted and took advantage of her. It is my hope that justice will be served.”

San Carlos Apache Police Chief Alejandro Benally said Phoenix police “will do all they can to find the perpetrator.”

A lawyer for the woman’s family said they were outraged at the “neglect of their daughter” and asked for privacy.

“The family would like me to convey that the baby boy has been born into a loving family and will be well cared for,” Phoenix attorney John Micheaels said in a statement.

A spokesman for Hacienda HealthCare, David Leibowitz, said investigators served a search warrant Tuesday to obtain DNA samples from all male staffers — a day after company CEO Bill Timmons stepped down.   Board member Gary Orman said the facility “will accept nothing less than a full accounting of this absolutely horrifying situation.”

“We will do everything in our power to ensure the safety of every single one of our patients and our employees,” Orman said in a statement.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s office has called the situation “deeply troubling.” Phoenix police so far have declined to comment.

 

25 million viewers…is the number of U.S. watchers of Netflix’s BIRD BOX movie with Sandra Bullock, over the first 7 days of its release, according to Nielsen company.   Netflix said last month that more that 45 million accounts worldwide had watched the film film in its first week.   Nevertheless, it’s a hot movie.

 

Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019

A problem for the White House, Republicans and probably Democrats.  That’s what insiders are ever since Alexandia Ocasio-Cortez won a surprising victory in a New York City congessional primary last June.  And now even newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is wondering what to make of the never shy Ocasi-Cortez and her comments as she is proposing a 70% tax rate on the wealthy in America.

Yesterday on 60 Minutes, Ocasio-Cortez sat with Anderson Cooper and make another bold statement about President Trump, calling him a racist. When Cooper asked Ocasio-Cortez why she doesn’t speak about Trump very often, she called him a “symptom of a problem,” adding that “the president certainly didn’t invent racism, but he’s certainly given a voice to it, and expanded it and created a platform for those things.”

She said,  “When you look at the words that he uses, which are historic dog whistles of white supremacy, when you look at how he reacted to the Charlottesville incident, where neo-Nazis murdered a woman, versus how he manufactures crises like immigrants seeking legal refuge on our borders, it’s night and day.”

In a statement to 60 Minutes, the White House refuted Ocasio-Cortez’s claim that Trump is racist, stating that her “sheer ignorance on the matter can’t cover the fact that President Trump supported and passed historic criminal justice reform.”   Stay tuned.

 

In Southern California, local Torrance police say they’ve made an arrest following a shooting that killed three men and injured four others during a brawl at a popular area bowling alley and karaoke bar.

Torrance police Sgt. Ronald Harris confirmed an arrest Monday but declined to release further details until an afternoon news conference.

Shots rang out at Gable House Bowl in the city of Torrance on Friday night. Video showed groups of people involved in a fight as the shooting broke out. Officers responding to 911 calls found seven people with gunshot wounds. Three men were pronounced dead at the scene.

Police haven’t released details about what led to the shooting but witnesses say it stemmed from the fight.

 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom was sworn in today and immediately drew sharp battle lines with President Donald Trump, pledging to enact "progressive, principled" policies as the antidote to the White House's "corruption and incompetence."

"People's lives, freedom, security, the water we drink, the air we breathe - they all hang in the balance," Newsom, 51, declared to a crowd of hundreds packed into a tent outside the Capitol.

Newsom took the helm as California's governor with a speech laced with bold pronouncements about California's values and the direction he envisions for the nation's most populous state.

But there were few specifics on how he'll get there. He never mentioned Trump by name, but said the president's administration is "hostile to California's values and interests" and blasted plans to build a wall along the nation's border with Mexico.

"The country is watching us, the world is watching us. The future depends on us, and we will seize this moment," he said.
Newsom took the oath as California’s 40th governor today, saying:

“It is up to us to renew the California dream for a new generation. And now more than ever, it is up to us to defend it,” Newsom said. “But there is an administration in Washington clearly hostile to California’s values and California’s interests.”

The former San Francisco mayor painted a picture of California as a virtual “nation-state,” one that will push beyond the strictures proposed by the GOP leaders in Washington toward a more progressive future.

Newly installed U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, was among those in attendance for the inaugural address. She got a standing ovation when she entered, an affirmation of the strong backing her opposition to Trump has in California's Democrat-controlled capital.

“This decision comes after careful consideration of what is a tragic and complex case,” Haslam said in a statement released by his office.

Brown was convicted in 2004 of the murder of Johnny Allen, a 43-year-old real estate broker she claims was trafficking her for sex. She was tried as an adult in the case, convicted, and sentenced when she was 16 years old.

“Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16. Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life,” Haslam said in the statement.

Haslam’s office pointed to the reformational work that Brown did during her time in prison, inlcuding getting her GED and noting that she is expected to get her bachelor’s degree this year.

The decision to grant Brown clemency, which lawmakers and advocates have been pushing for, is one of the final acts of the outgoing Republican governor.

Brown will be subject to parole until August 2029.  Brown’s case gained attention in 2017 thanks to social media posts by celebrities, including Kim Kardashian and Rihanna, calling for her release. She was also the subject of a 2011 documentary called “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story.”

An advocate at the news conference read a letter written by Brown, in which she thanked many people, including Haslam “for your act of mercy and giving me a second chance.”

 

Friday, Jan. 4, 2019

As Friday started in Washington D.C. and on Wall Street, new fears about the global economy are intensifying.  U.S. stocks fell on Thursday driving bond yields to their lowest level in almost a year. Friday brought some recovery in global markets, with Asian indexes finishing mostly higher and Europe up in midday trading. Futures pointed to higher openings for the Dow industrials and the S&P 500. 

Investors world-wide were rattled by Wednesday’s revenue warning from Apple, whose shares dropped 10%. Amplifying those worries: concerns that U.S. auto sales have nowhere to go but down and a U.S. manufacturing index’s largest monthly drop since 2008.  As of Thursday, half of investors expected the Fed to cut rates this year—up from about 10% the day before.

 

California’s House of Representative and now speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi presided over the new 116th Congress yesterday.  What now? Fixing government shutdown, border wall, impeachment?   

On their first day in power, House Democrats passed a spending package aimed at ending the partial government shutdown. Lacking the border-wall funding demanded by President Trump, the measures gained a handful of Republican votes, but are expected to stall in the GOP-controlled Senate. 

Mrs. Pelosi, the only woman ever to serve as speaker, leads an ideologically diverse Democratic caucus that won its majority in part by opposing Mr. Trump’s policies—and includes some members who have called for opening impeachment proceedings. Here’s who’s who in the new House and Senate.

President Trump made a surprise appearance in the White House press briefing room—his first-ever visit with reporters present—to push his case for $5 billion in border-wall funding, and declare a flood of public support for his position. 

 

Thursday, Jan. 3, 2018

With a bit of surprise to Washington D.C. and The White House, the Labor Department released their latest jobless numbers which shows increase of number of Americans filing applications for new unemployment benefits.  It’s still at a low level indicative of a tight labor market.

Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., increased by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 231,000 in the week ended Dec. 29, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Jobless claims ended the year around the lowest levels since the late 1960s, when the U.S. population was about 62% of its current size.  Claims touched a 49-year low of 202,000 in mid-September before rising modestly following two hurricanes striking the Southern U.S., causing disruptions to some businesses.

More broadly, the U.S. labor market is extraordinarily tight, leaving businesses reluctant to let workers go. The unemployment rate held at 3.7% in November, matching a nearly half-century low, and economists expect it declined further to 3.6% in December.

 

With just enough support to keep her in power, California Rep. Nancy Pelosi is expected to be elected as speaker of the House today.  She’ll have on her burner two immediate legislative priorities: ending a partial government shutdown and passing a government-overhaul package changing campaign-finance rules and government-ethics law while expanding voting rights.

On ethics, the package would prohibit senior government officials from lobbying their former executive-branch peers for two years after they have left government. It also calls for establishing a nationwide automatic voter-registration system.

On the campaign-finance front, the legislation would require several classes of politically active organizations, including tax-exempt 501(c)(4) charitable groups, to disclose donors who have given $10,000 or more during an election cycle. Currently, those groups don’t have to disclose their donors. The bill also allocates a pool of taxpayer money to match certain small-dollar donations 6-to-1; aides didn’t disclose how much money would be set aside for that initiative, which is meant to encourage grass-roots campaigning.

“The most important thing we can do is come out strong with passage in the House,” said Rep. John Sarbanes (D., Md.), who was one of the chief architects of the legislation, known as House Resolution 1, or H.R. 1. “Then it becomes a matter of political consequence for those who stand in its way.”

 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The new year 2019 is getting ready for the new and politically undivided Congress when it convenes Thursday.   Washington D.C., the media and the country will see quickly as the government will immediately be put to the test as a partial government shutdown enters its 13th day.

Democrats plan to put forward a package of six, full-year spending bills that would fund most of the rest of the government through September. Separately, they will propose a short-term patch extending current funding through Feb. 8 for the Department of Homeland Security, which would provide more time to negotiate a settlement over funding for a border wall.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who has led his party in the chamber since 2006, has put the onus of finding a solution to the deadlock on Senate Democrats and President Trump. Mr. McConnell will have a 53-47 Republican majority to work with, two more seats after the midterm elections than he had last year, but short of the 60 votes needed to advance the spending bills.

Mr. McConnell’s spokesman Don Stewart said the majority leader wouldn’t take up the legislation in the Senate without public support from the president, who must sign the measures into law. Mr. Trump hasn’t signaled that he would support the Democratic proposal, tweeting Tuesday that “the Democrats, much as I suspected, have allocated no money for a new Wall.” and adding “without a Wall there can be no real Border Security.”

Mr. Trump and bipartisan congressional leadership are expected to attend a briefing at the White House on Wednesday afternoon focused border security, given by senior administration officials.

A new Congress usually opens amid celebration; rarely is it forced to consider consequential legislation, such as a bill to reopen the government, on the first day. The 116th Congress is the most diverse in terms of race and gender, and both chambers will include more members hailing from their parties’ more ideologically extreme wings. It is also the least politically experienced in the House chamber’s history, according to an analysis by The Brookings Institution.

The fight over money for a wall along the southern U.S. border has united Democrats behind California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who brokered several deals to secure her party’s support for speaker. In 2007, she became the first woman to hold the gavel, and she is now poised to become the first speaker since 1955 to regain it after losing it.

Her once-detractors have turned to praise her for deftly handling the president, who tried to cast doubt that she had support from her party.

“She’s very good at working the levers to power in the Congress,” said Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, who was part of a group whose demands led Mrs. Pelosi support term limits for House Democratic leaders. “But it works if you have an honest broker on the other side.”

While Mrs. Pelosi organizes her new majority, Mr. McConnell must grapple with new electoral politics that may cause some GOP senators to vote differently.

 

A swath of new legislature and laws will be going into effect this new year including crackdowns on plastic straws and foam containers to new measures spurred by last year’s school shooting massacre in Parkland, Fla., and the #MeToo scandals.

It was a busy year for California, for example, whose Democratic state leaders churned out more than 1,000 new laws.  Among them are new gun restrictions aimed at keeping firearms away from the mentally disturbed and domestic abusers. Californians convicted of some domestic-violence offenses can now lose their gun rights for life. A new law adds misdemeanor domestic violence or battery—including harmful touching of a spouse, roommate or dating partner—to the crimes that permanently disqualify a person from owning a gun.

Gun owners who are committed to a mental institution twice in a year—and deemed a danger to themselves or others—also face a lifetime ban. Departing Gov. Jerry Brown signed the measure months after the Florida school shooting rampage, which was carried out by a mentally disturbed ex-student who had acquired his weapon legally.

Washington state now requires purchasers of rifles or shotguns to be at least 21, raising the legal age from 18, as Florida did several months ago. Gun owners in Washington can now also face criminal liability if they let their weapons slip into the hands of a child or anyone else unauthorized to carry a weapon.

California has new laws targeting workplace sexual harassment.  One bars employers from staving off discrimination claims by offering bonuses or job offers to aggrieved employees.  Another law makes it harder for companies to keep a lid on sexual misconduct claims that they have settled.  Employers can conceal the size of payouts but settlement terms may not make a complainant keep silent about the underlying allegations.

Virginia also has a new #MeToo law mandating sexual-harassment training for legislators and their staffs. Large businesses in Delaware have to provide harassment training to all of their employees.

A California law lowers the bar for proving sex discrimination in court, making clear that a single incident of office harassment can support a plaintiff’s claim. The statute also says that a stray sexist joke or remark made by a manager can count as evidence in a discrimination suit, even if the comment didn’t relate to a hiring decision.

Other notable laws deal with health, death, abortion and defendants’ rights.

Hawaii now allows terminally ill and suffering patients to end their lives with the help of a doctor. It is the sixth state to legalize physician-assisted suicide, following Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Colorado and California.

In Tennessee, women who get an ultrasound before an abortion must be offered an “opportunity to learn the results,” which must indicate whether a heartbeat was detected.

A new Democratic-backed health-insurance law in New Jersey requires residents to maintain coverage or pay hundreds of dollars in fines. Following efforts by the Trump administration to roll back the Affordable Care Act, New Jersey became the second state, after Massachusetts, to impose a statewide individual mandate.

Under a New York City law, people who identify neither as male or female can now list their gender as “X” on birth certificates. New Yorkers can also adjust their gender on birth certificates without the blessing of medical and mental-health professionals.

On the criminal-justice front, Louisiana has abolished split verdicts in felony trials and now requires a unanimous jury vote to convict. Before, a defendant could be found guilty even if two jurors wanted to acquit. The change leaves Oregon as the only state without a unanimous jury requirement.

The new year also means higher minimum wages in 19 states and 21 cities. More than a dozen cities and counties now have wage floors around $15, according to the National Employment Law Project. The $15 threshold was reached in New York City and Seattle for businesses with 11 or more employees. About 10 California cities clustered around Silicon Valley now have minimum wages at or above $15.

 

Friday, Dec. 28, 2018

As the New Year’s holiday looms, Washington D.C. is a ghost town with members of Congress and the Trump White House made no progress yesterday toward a deal to end the partial federal government shutdown, likely leaving the border-wall funding fight as the first order of business for the new Congress next year.

The Senate convened briefly yesterday afternoon before adjourning until Monday, Dec. 31, the latest sign that lawmakers don’t expect to reach an agreement to end the shutdown this year.  The Senate session Monday is likely to be perfunctory and brief, absent any developments.

Currently in its sixth day, the third partial government shutdown of the year began on Saturday after President Trump and House Republicans upended a bipartisan Senate agreement to fund the government through Feb. 8, with Mr. Trump insisting on securing $5 billion for the wall.

The shutdown has affected nine of 15 federal agencies, forcing about 380,000 employees to take unpaid leave, also known as furlough, while other workers, deemed essential employees, are set to work without pay.

Neither the House nor the Senate are scheduled to hold any votes before Monday at the earliest, and lawmakers and congressional aides from both parties were pessimistic any agreement to reopen the government would be struck before Democrats take control of the House on Thursday, Jan. 3.

Mr. Trump has appeared to harden his stance in recent days that he won’t agree to a spending deal unless it includes billions in funding for the wall along the border with Mexico. Meanwhile, Democrats on the brink of taking back the House next week have little incentive to cede to Mr. Trump now. Given the stalemate, Hill aides said Thursday that they didn’t expect to strike a deal before Jan. 3 unless those dynamics were to suddenly change.

“The president does not want the government to remain shut down, but he will not sign a proposal that does not first prioritize our [country’s] safety and security,” the White House said in a statement Thursday. Mr. Trump has been calling legislators about the shutdown and has been in regular contact with his negotiating team, a White House official said.

In a statement late Thursday, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), who is expected to be elected speaker on Jan. 3, said that House Democrats plan to “act swiftly” to end the shutdown but wouldn’t fund the wall.

 

Today at a quick briefing to the media, President Trump added a fresh threat to close the southern border if Democrats don’t fund a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, as a partial government shutdown related to the standoff stretched into its seventh day.

“We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with,” Mr. Trump said in a series of tweets. “We build a wall or close the southern border.”

Lawmakers and the White House have made no progress in recent days toward a deal to end the partial government shutdown, likely leaving the border-wall funding fight as the first order of business for the new Congress next year. Mr. Trump, who has remained in town over the Christmas holiday, has demanded that Congress include border-wall funding as part of any spending bill needed to keep the government fully operational.

Democrats said the president was the one being intransigent.

“There’s absolutely no reason for a partial government shutdown, and this is happening because the president is rejecting multiple, bipartisan options to fund the government and provide billions in additional border security funding,” Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said on Twitter on Thursday.

It wasn’t clear what Mr. Trump meant by “close the southern border,” though another tweet Friday morning about Nafta signaled that he may be referring to all crossings—legal or not. Mr. Trump said that “the United States looses soooo much money on Trade with Mexico under NAFTA…. that I would consider closing the Southern Border.”

The White House and the Department of Homeland Security didn’t immediately respond to a request seeking to clarify the president’s tweets.

Tensions have been rising for months along the border after caravans of migrants fleeing violence traveled toward the U.S. Last month, Mr. Trump also threatened to shut gateways into the U.S. from Mexico.

On Friday, the president also threatened to cut off all U.S. aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, three central American countries where gang violence has forced many to seek asylum in the U.S.

“We will be cutting off all aid to these 3 countries—taking advantage of U.S. for years!” the president tweeted.

Congressional Republicans would prefer to cut a deal this year, while they still control both chambers, but GOP aides said neither Mr. Trump nor Democrats have shown any willingness to budge. Neither the House nor the Senate are schedule to hold any votes before Dec. 31 at the earliest.

Democrats, for their part, see no reason to compromise on the wall in part because they believe their hand will strengthen when the party takes control of the House in just six days. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) is expected to be elected speaker on Jan 3., and she has pledged to “act swiftly” to end the shutdown—without funding the wall.

Mr. Mulvaney said that a deal to reopen the government was unlikely until Mrs. Pelosi is elected speaker in January.

“Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House,” said a spokesman for Mrs. Pelosi, adding that House Democrats have tried to force a vote on a clean bill to reopen the government but have been blocked. The spokesman said the last time the White House reached out to Mrs. Pelosi directly was Dec. 11, when Mr. Trump phoned her after a White House meeting that morning.

The shutdown has affected nine of 15 federal agencies, forcing about 380,000 employees to take unpaid leave, also known as furlough, while other workers, deemed essential employees, are set to work without pay.

 

Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018

With President Trump’s visit to the troops in Iraq along with a great holiday sales season for retail, Wall Street surged more than 1,000 points yesterday.  It was the biggest single-day gain ever but today a correction has brought it down a good 400 points at the moment.

While investors weren’t surprised to see major stock indexes fall again today—the Dow industrials has risen in just six of the 17 trading days in December so far—the volatility and massive moves have been dizzying.

The damage, which began in earnest in October, has left investors with few places to hide as they continue to confront many of the same issues that had been weighing on stocks since October: a Fed intent on winding down easy-money policies, a continuing trade spat between the U.S. and China and slowing economic growth.

Questions over the fate of Fed Chair Jerome Powell, as well as a government shutdown that has entered its sixth day, have only added to investors’ anxieties.

“So many things have come together that I’d expect the volatility to continue into the new year,” said one chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade.  “There’s still a lot of answers waiting around earnings [growth], tariffs and a sense of where the economy is at.”

The S&P 500 has shed more than $2 trillion in value since Sept. 20, the broad index’s last high, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. Losses have only accelerated in December, putting the S&P 500 on pace for its worst month since 2008.

Much of the U.S. government remains shut down because of a budget impasse. President Trump, waiting for democrats to get his decision on border security, described the situation as a “disgrace.”

James Athey, senior investment manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments, said “volatility is here to stay” given investors remain skittish, markets are oversold and liquidity is thin.

 

The government shutdown continues as the U.S. Senate is expected to tackle the issue all day today and Friday.  But Congress and the White House appeared far from reaching a deal to reopen the nine federal agencies that have been closed since Saturday.

President Trump, fresh off a trip to Iraq, continued to blame Democrats for the impasse and resumed his criticism of Democrats’ opposition to funding a wall along the border with Mexico.

“Have the Democrats finally realized that we desperately need Border Security and a Wall on the Southern Border. Need to stop Drugs, Human Trafficking, Gang Members & Criminals from coming into our Country,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Thursday morning.

Democrats have said they support border security, but believe a wall is ineffective and wasteful. Mr. Trump has said border security funds are pointless without a wall to secure the border.

The shutdown, the third of the year, started early Saturday after Mr. Trump and House Republicans upended a bipartisan Senate agreement to fund the government through Feb. 8 when the president decided to insist on securing $5 billion for the wall. The president has indefinitely delayed his holiday trip to Florida as the White House negotiates with lawmakers.

But there has been little negotiating since Saturday and both White House officials and congressional aides believe the shutdown could stretch into 2019, when Democrats take control of the House.  Congressional leaders reached a deal last week not to hold any votes until a deal is struck, at which point lawmakers would be given 24 hours’ notice to return to Washington.  The prolonged gridlock has frustrated lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, who had hoped to avoid a shutdown.

“To me, the wall is essential. I wouldn’t have shut down the government over it, but it is shut down now.  So let’s find a way out of it and it should be the Democrats conceding that there has to be a wall,” Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y) said to reporters Wednesday night.

Democrats noted that Mr. Trump had said earlier this month that he would be “proud” to shut down the government over the border wall, keeping the political blame squarely on the president.

“Instead of bringing certainty into people’s lives, President Trump is continuing to hurt workers & families w/ the #TrumpShutdown,” Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) said on Twitter Wednesday.  “He said he would be proud to shut down the government—now he seems to not know how to get out of it. It’s time for him to work with Dems to end this.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), who is expected to be elected speaker on Jan. 3,  and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said earlier this week in a joint statement that different officials from the White House were saying “different things about what the president would accept or not accept to end his Trump Shutdown, making it impossible to know where they stand at any given moment.”

The shutdown has affected nine of 15 federal agencies, forcing about 380,000 employees to take unpaid leave, also known as furlough, while other workers, deemed essential employees, would work without pay.

If the shutdown lasts until the new Congress begins, Mrs. Pelosi is expected to move quickly to pass a bill funding the government through Feb. 8 and send it to the Senate. If it passes that chamber, it would still need to be signed by the president to end the impasse.

That bill, which has already been passed by the Senate, would extend current border-security funding, including for fencing, levees and technology but not a concrete wall. Republicans said those funds constitute wall money, while Democrats said that is border security, not wall funding.

In the most recent round of negotiations, Vice President Mike Pence and incoming chief of staff Mick Mulvaney made Mr. Schumer an offer on Saturday that included at least $2.5 billion in border-security funding, according to aides, but the restrictions around the funding weren’t clear.

Mr. Schumer rejected the latest White House offer, saying the two sides remained far apart.

Spending bills require 60 votes to clear procedural hurdles in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 51-49 majority, giving Democrats leverage in the talks.

Mr. Trump had initially demanded that Congress include $5 billion in border-wall funding as part of any year-end spending bill. But in a series of quick reversals last week, he appeared to back off that demand, prompting the Senate to pass the stopgap spending bill with no border-wall funding under the belief he would sign it. Buoyed by House Republicans demanding a bigger fight over the wall, Mr. Trump threatened to veto that bill, upending the negotiations and leading to Saturday’s shutdown.

 

Friday, Dec. 21, 2018

Welcome to the holidays and the unrest building day by day in Washington D.C.  While many members of Congress are long gone to their respective states, today President Trump pledged a partial government shutdown that would “last for a very long time” if Democrats in the U.S. Senate don’t vote for a spending bill that includes funding for a wall along the Mexican border, which they are unlikely to do.

Trump today urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to fight for funding for a border wall in a bill to keep the government open past midnight, before a scheduled White House meeting with Senate Republicans.

Mr. Trump’s prodding in a series of tweets came the morning after he and House Republicans upended a bipartisan effort to fund the government until February.

“The Democrats, whose votes we need in the Senate, will probably vote against Border Security and the Wall even though they know it is DESPERATELY NEEDED,” he wrote on Twitter. “If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time.”

Moments later, he wrote, “Shutdown today if Democrats do not vote for Border Security!”

The Senate on Wednesday passed a stopgap spending bill with no border-wall funding after Mr. McConnell said he had been in close consultation with the White House. Mr. Trump’s tweets Friday morning put Mr. McConnell in the difficult position of trying to pass a bill that doesn’t have the votes to clear the Senate.

The president on Thursday summoned GOP lawmakers to the White House and told them he would veto the Senate’s short-term spending bill because it didn’t contain wall funding.

The House, which initially had been expected to pass the Senate version of the bill, instead passed a measure on Thursday night with $5.7 billion in funding for the border wall.  The217-185 vote along largely partisan lines marked a defiant move by House Republicans, sending to the Senate a bill almost certain to be blocked by Democrats, who oppose the border wall.

A wall along the Mexican border is one of Mr. Trump’s signature campaign promises and a rallying cry for his core supporters.

 “The Trump temper tantrum may produce a government shutdown. It will not get him his wall,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, on Thursday night.

Mr. Trump had been scheduled to leave Washington for a two-week vacation at his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago on Friday afternoon, but the White House said Thursday that he wouldn’t leave if the government shuts down.

Spending bills need 60 votes to clear procedural hurdles in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 51-49 edge.

The president also encouraged Mr. McConnell to change the rules of the Senate to enable spending bills to pass with a simple majority instead of the 60 votes required to clear procedural hurdles.

“Mitch, use the Nuclear Option and get it done! Our Country is counting on you!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

Senate Republicans have resisted that idea in the past, not wanting to eliminate the minority party’s leverage. A spokesman for Mr. McConnell didn’t immediately return a request for comment about the president’s tweet, but the leader has said in the past that he supported the current rules of the Senate.

If a spending bill doesn’t pass and receive Mr. Trump’s signature, the government will partially shut down at 12:01 a.m. ET on Saturday when seven spending bills expire.

 

Yesterday’s big news was that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he would resign at the end of February after President Trump ordered the drawdown of all troops from Syria and many from Afghanistan, because his views no longer “aligned” with the president’s, an abrupt departure of a military figure considered a stalwart of national security.

Mr. Mattis told the president he would quit during a White House meeting Thursday afternoon, after expressing concern about the president’s surprise call to rapidly withdraw more than 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria as well as the prospect of beginning to withdraw as many as half of the 14,000 troops now in Afghanistan in a matter of weeks.

Military officials fear the moves could lead to the re-emergence of Islamic State or like-minded groups in countries where the military has made heavy investments or endanger the U.S.’s on-the-ground partners, U.S. officials said. Mr. Trump said Wednesday ISIS had been defeated in Syria and it is time to bring the troops home. He hasn’t addressed the drawdown in Afghanistan this week.

The unexpected series of events appeared to catch many in the military off guard.

Mr. Mattis had long told associates he wouldn’t quit the post but would have to be fired. Yet in a pointed letter to the president, he suggested he chose to leave. The president had a right to a secretary of defense “whose views are better aligned with yours,” Mr. Mattis wrote.

Legislators and some within the Pentagon said they were shaken by Mr. Mattis’s departure and what it could mean for the U.S. military and the nation’s broader national-security strategy. “We are on the edge,” one Pentagon official said. “This is unbelievable.”

Mr. Mattis was considered a steadfast member of the president’s national-security team, even as his influence more recently waned within the White House.

 

Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018

The U.S. military is leaving Syria to the surprise of just about everyone in Congress and military leaders.   And President Trump defended his abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. military forces saying that he campaigned on it and questioned the cost of being “policeman of the Middle East.”

“Getting out of Syria was no surprise. I’ve been campaigning on it for years, and six months ago, when I very publicly wanted to do it, I agreed to stay longer,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “Russia, Iran, Syria & others are the local enemy of ISIS. We were doing there [sic] work. Time to come home & rebuild.”

In a second message, he asked, “Does the USA want to be the Policeman of the Middle East, getting NOTHING but spending precious lives and trillions of dollars protecting others who, in almost all cases, do not appreciate what we are doing?  Do we want to be there forever?  Time for others to finally fight.”

Mr. Trump stunned Washington and much of the international community with the announcement of the withdrawal. Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill openly criticized the move and said it came with no warning.

U.S. officials began informing partners in northeastern Syria of their plans to begin an immediate pullout of American forces from the region, where they have been fighting a dwindling Islamic State. About 2,000 service members have been working alongside Syrian militants in that fight.

The decision recasts U.S. policy in the Middle East, where the Trump administration has been working to defeat Islamic State, contain Iran’s expansionist ambitions, and counter Russia’s influence in Syria, where Moscow has a vital naval base.

The planned exit also worries the U.S.’s Kurdish partners, who risk losing vital backing just when Turkey is threatening to attack them.  Mr. Trump discussed his decision in phone call last week with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has opposed the U.S. partnership with Kurdish forces.

Trump:  “Russia, Iran, Syria & many others are not happy about the U.S. leaving, despite what the Fake News says, because now they will have to fight ISIS and others, who they hate, without us,” he said. “I am building by far the most powerful military in the world. ISIS hits us they are doomed!”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia supported the U.S. decision to withdraw, but he questioned whether Washington would pull out entirely. “I don’t see signs they are leaving,” he said at his year-end news conference in Moscow.

 

The government shutdown deadline is getting closer and House Republicans, like President Trump, are angry they can’t get money for the border wall.

Hours after the Senate unanimously approved a stopgap spending bill funding the government through Feb. 8, House Republicans are arguing today about whether to vote on the measure, which would push the border-wall fight into next year, when Democrats take control of the House.

Meanwhile, the president signaled he was reluctant to sign a short-term spending bill that lacked funds for a border wall.

“At this moment, the president does not want to go further without border security, which includes steel slats or a wall,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. Mr. Trump “is continuing to weigh his options,” she said.

Mr. Trump is set to meet with House Republican lawmakers at noon to discuss the matter further.

House Republicans’ biggest objection is that the stopgap spending measure doesn’t include any new funding for the border wall, despite the fact that its construction was the centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign and House Republicans have embraced his call to build it.

“The overwhelming majority of the [House GOP] conference is going to do whatever it takes to stand and fight for what we promised the American people and that is get funding for border security,” said Mark Walker (R., N.C.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of House conservatives.

 

An interesting move by someone, perhaps terrorists have caused major headaches today in London as more than 100 flights at Gatwick Airport have now been delayed due to drones operating in the air.  Authorities believe it’s a deliberate attempt to disrupt travel.

Sussex police said the drones were of an “industrial specification,” rather than a toy or amateur unmanned aircraft.

Some flights, including to the U.S., were grounded and others diverted to land at other airports, stranding, diverting or delaying tens of thousands of passengers in the run-up to the busy holiday travel period.

Gatwick is served by British Airways, Delta Airlines and Norwegian Air Shuttle.   Some of these flights were bound for New York, Las Vegas, and Orlando.  Air safety authorities have become increasingly concerned about the rapid growth in the use of commercial drones, often as toys. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration now tracks more than 1,000 suspected incidents of near misses by planes and unmanned aircraft a year.

 

Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018

Wait a bit and the negotiations will change on whether the government will shutdown or not.   This morning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said he would introduce a short-term spending measure later in the day to avoid a partial government shutdown set to happen this weekend.

Mr. McConnell said the measure would keep the government running through Feb. 8, averting a partial shutdown when seven spending bills are set to expire at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

“We’ll soon take up a simple measure that will continue government funding into February so we can continue this vital debate” in the next session of Congress, Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday. Democrats will take control of the House in January.  The measure is expected to pass both chambers this week.

While President Trump hasn’t indicated publicly if he would sign a short-term measure, Mr. McConnell has said he has been in close contact with the White House during the spending standoff.   Asked about the short-term patch, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, told reporters Wednesday that Mr. Trump would “take a look” at it, but that didn’t mean he was backing down from his border-wall promise.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) indicated that Democrats would support Mr. McConnell’s short-term measure.

“I’m glad the leader thinks the government should not shut down over the president’s demand for a wall,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning. “Shutting down the government over Christmas is a terrible idea.”

From the The White House at midday today, it is signaling it is backing off its demand for $5 billion to pay for a border wall, while rocky negotiations on Capitol Hill prompted Senate GOP leaders to start drafting a short-term spending deal to avoid a partial government shutdown this weekend.

President Trump hasn’t indicated if he would sign a short-term measure, which would continue funding for border security but not for a wall. Last week, Mr. Trump said publicly he would be “proud” to shut down the government if lawmakers don’t include $5 billion in funding for a Mexico border wall in their spending package. Asked about the possibility of a government shutdown Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Trump said: “We’ll see what happens.” He declined to answer a question about whether he would insist a spending bill include funding for a wall, saying: “We need border security.”

The White House’s softer tone comes as the Republican president faces diminished leverage to wrest money for border security from a Congress whose chambers will be evenly divided between the Republican and Democratic parties starting in January.  Trump has made building the wall a central rallying cry of his presidency, and in recent weeks, his campaign has sent fundraising pleas highlighting his fight with Democrats on this issue.

 

The Federal Reserve make make another tweak today in the rate it pays banks to park excess reserves on the central bank's books.  For some time the Fed has been dealing with a fed-funds rate that's been trading toward the upper end of the fed-funds target-rate range, instead of in the comfortable middle. To deal with that, it's already lowered the IOER rate five basis points from the top end of the range.

If the Fed raises its target-rate range to 2.25% to 2.50%, many experts see the IOER rate being moved up to 2.40%, rather than 2.45%.  The change doesn't have much meaning for the real work impact of monetary policy, but it does show the actual control of interest rates is still a work in progress, and a bit messy to explain in its full details.

 

Penny Marshall, co-star of 'Laverne & Shirley' dead at 75

TV sitcom star and screen actress Penny Marshall, who gained fame in the late ’70s for her sitcom Laverne & Shirley before transitioning behind the camera to great success, has died. She was 75.  Marshall died Monday night at her Hollywood Hills home of complications from diabetes. She had previously been diagnosed with brain and lung cancer in 2009 before going into remission by 2012. 

“Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall,” her family says in a statement. “Penny was a girl from the Bronx, who came out West, put a cursive ‘L’ on her sweater and transformed herself into a Hollywood success story. We hope her life continues to inspire others to spend time with family, work hard and make all of their dreams come true.”

Marshall's role as outspoken tomboy Laverne DeFazio in the "Happy Days" spin-off "Laverne & Shirley" catapulted the Bronx native to celebrity in the late '70s.

She began her directing career by helming episodes of TV series before landing her first feature-film directing job with the 1986 Whoopi Goldberg action-comedy "Jumpin' Jack Flash." With her second film, "Big," starring Tom Hanks, Marshall became the first woman to direct a movie that grossed more than $100 million.

She repeated that success in 1992 with the baseball movie "A League of Their Own."

A celebration of Marshall's life will be held at a later date to be announced, the family said.

Marshall survived by her older sister, Ronny, daughter, actress Tracy Reiner, and three grandchildren.

"We hope her life continues to inspire others to spend time with family, work hard and make all of their dreams come true," her family said.

 

Retired U.S. General and former Trump advisor Mike Flynn’s sentencing for lying to the FBI was unexpectedly delayed today, after a dramatic court hearing in which a federal judge lambasted the former Trump adviser and suggested he first complete his cooperation that had drawn a request for leniency from prosecutors.

He pleaded guilty a year ago to having made false statements about his interactions with Moscow’s ambassador to the U.S. before President Trump took office.

Mr. Flynn was forced to resign as Mr. Trump’s national security adviser just three weeks into his term after it emerged that he had lied to administration colleagues about his contacts with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. He told officials, including two FBI counterintelligence agents, that he hadn’t discussed sanctions with the ambassador, but intelligence intercepts contradicted his story.

During Tuesday’s hearing, the judge questioned Mr. Flynn’s patriotism, asked prosecutors whether they had considered a treason charge against the retired Army general and suggested he might impose jail time despite prosecutors’ contention that Mr. Flynn deserved a low sentence.

Judge Sullivan, a veteran jurist who has been appointed to judicial jobs by both Republican and Democratic presidents, repeatedly emphasized that he didn’t consider Mr. Flynn’s behavior to be a minor lapse and rejected the notion raised by defense attorneys that similar cases have resulted in no jail time.

The judge later walked back some of his strongest comments against Mr. Flynn but said he was troubled by his conduct and unhappy with previous precedents that have allowed other senior government officials to avoid jail time for lying.

 

Government shutdown vs. that border wall.   Today, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “At the end of the day we don’t want to shut down the government. We want to shut down the border from illegal immigration, from drugs coming into this country.”

Ms. Sanders said the administration could find “other ways” of obtaining the $5 billion in funding that Mr. Trump has said he wants to build a wall along the southern border, but didn’t provide a precise road map on how that would be accomplished. She appeared to refer to a Senate bill providing $1.6 billion in border security funding, but not money for the wall. She said that bill, which funds the Homeland Security Department, was “something that we would be able to support as long as we can couple that with other funding resources to get to the $5 billion.”

Any willingness from Mr. Trump to accept that Senate bill would be a major breakthrough in the standoff.

Ms. Sanders said at a briefing later Tuesday that the White House was “looking at every avenue available” to fund the border and said the president had directed cabinet secretaries to “look for funding that can be used to protect our borders.”

Ms. Sanders said the president was waiting to see what the Senate would pass before weighing in, adding that the White House was “disappointed” in the spending bill process.

Seven spending bills are set to expire at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, which would trigger a partial government shutdown. Mr. Trump is expected to leave Washington Friday for his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago, where he is expected to stay for two weeks.

Ms. Sanders’s comments marked a significant shift in tone from the White House since last week, when Mr. Trump told Democratic leaders in an Oval Office meeting that he would be “proud” to shut down the government for border security. “I will be the one to shut it down,” he declared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keywords:   National News, Klamath Falls News, Klamath Basin News, U.S. News Update, Regional News, News, White House News, Capitol Hill News, News Update, U.S. News And Information, National News Stories

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Sprague River Bridge Connection

Jan 23, 2019 - May 8, 2019

This event occurs weekly on Wednesday.

Accepting donations Wednesdays at 9 am to 1 pm. Located next to the Post Office in Sprague River. Tons of FREE clothes from baby to adult. Get what you need, save money and be blessed! Many thrift store items at low prices. The Bridge Connection runs the local food pantry so you can get your food box there. Also FREE MOBILE MEDICAL CLINIC every 22nd Tuesday of each month at 1:30

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Quail Trails Bus Service CHILOQUIN PICK UP

Jan 23, 2019 - May 3, 2019

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Quail Trails Bus Service 541-783-2219 x174 Chiloquin Pick Up: 9:55 am 3 hours in Klamath Falls- Sherm's Thunderbird Drop off at 2:15 pm Sherm's Pick up 3:20 pm Exceptions for Holidays and Weather. See our website! Chiloquin Drop off 5:30

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Sprague River Christian Fellowship Heavens Garden

Jan 23, 2019 - May 30, 2019

This event occurs weekly on Wednesday and Thursday.

Sprague River Christian Fellowship (SRVCF) with Paster Ron Willis, Sunday services at Community center 10:30 am, Children's ministry by Lee Dickerson  Good News Club Thursdays 4 to 5 pm Heaven's Garden: Wednesday & Thursdays 10 am to 12 pm

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Quail Trails Bus Service SPRAGUE RIVER SCHEDULE

Jan 23, 2019 - May 3, 2019

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Quail Trails Bus Service 541-783-2219 x174 Sprague River Pick up 10:28 am 3 hours in Klamath Falls- Sherm's Thunderbird Drop off at 2:15 pm Sherm's Pick up 3:20 pm Exceptions for Holidays and Weather. See our website! Sprague River Drop off 5:00 pm

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Quail Trails Bus Service SPRAGUE RIVER SCHEDULE

Jan 23, 2019 - May 3, 2019

This event occurs daily, every weekday.

Quail Trails Bus Service 541-783-2219 x174 Sprague River Pick up 10:28 am 3 hours in Klamath Falls- Sherm's Thunderbird Drop off at 2:15 pm Sherm's Pick up 3:20 pm Exceptions for Holidays and Weather. See our website! Sprague River Drop off 5:00 pm

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Sprague River Library Hours

Jan 23, 2019 - May 11, 2019

This event occurs weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Librarian is Joyce Hardman, the library is open Tues/Wed/Thurs/Sat from 10:30 am to 4 pm 

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Sprague River Post Office

Jan 23, 2019 - May 4, 2019

This event occurs weekly on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The Sprague River Post Office is open 10:30 am to 1:30 pm Monday through Saturday

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Quail Trails Bus Service Beatty Pick Up

Jan 23, 2019 - May 3, 2019

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Quail Trails Bus Service 541-783-2219 x174 Beatty Pick Up 11:00 am 3 hours in Klamath Falls- Sherm's Thunderbird Drop off at 2:15 pm Sherm's Pick up 3:20 pm Exceptions for Holidays and Weather. See our website!  

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Quail Trails Bus Service BONANZA pick up

Jan 23, 2019 - May 3, 2019

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Quail Trails Bus Service 541-783-2219 x174 Bonanza Pick up 11:45 am 3 hours in Klamath Falls- Sherm's Thunderbird Drop off at 2:15 pm Sherm's Pick up 3:20 pm Exceptions for Holidays and Weather. See our website!  

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Body Acceptance Circuit Training

Jan 23, 2019 - Aug 14, 2019

This event occurs weekly on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Live Young Sky Lakes Wellness Center circuit training classes offer a fun and energizing way to challenge yourself. Using timed intervals with periodic rest breaks, this class provides an excellent toning and cardiovascular workout in a non-competitive environment. Tara Gallagher certified personal trainer, designs and leads all workouts, which are appropriate for all shapes and fitness...

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