The Government Shutdown Probably Isn’t Ending Any Time Soon
Trump Offered NASA Unlimited Funding to Go to Mars by 2020
Gay Priests and the Lives They No Longer Want to Hide
A terrifying plot, stopped in its tracks
Three men in Greece are facing charges, accused of making bombs for an attack against a Muslim community in upstate New York.
The three men, 18-year-old Andrew Crysel of East Rochester, 19-year-old Vincent Vetromile of Greece, and 20-year-old Brian Colaneri of Gates are all charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree and conspiracy. Officers say a 16-year-old boy is also facing charges in the case. His identity hasn’t been released due to his status as a minor.
Investigators say the trio had made explosive devices using mason jars and duct tape. Police say the jars had black powder inside along with projectiles like BBs and nails. Three bombs were found at the home of the minor. Twenty-three firearms were found at other locations connected to the investigation.
BuzzFeed obtained images of the proposed Trump Tower Moscow, which Trump’s lawyers said never got very far. (It was supposed to be very tall.)
There’s movement to end the shutdown, but bills to open the government face long odds of passing
Senate leaders have agreed to votes on rival proposals for reopening the government for the first time since the shutdown began last month, though it’s not clear either measure can pass.
Lawmakers will hold separate votes on President Donald Trump’s plan that includes $5.7 billion for border wall funding as well as a Democratic proposal that would reopen agencies through Feb. 8.
The agreement to proceed with votes marks the first attempt at finding a path out of the shutdown, but Trump has threatened to veto any measure that doesn’t fully fund his wall. Democrats likely have the votes to block Trump’s bill and the Democratic proposal would need to win support of 13 Republicans along with every Democrat.
It looks like Los Angeles teachers got much of what they wanted out of their strike
The tentative pact was announced at a 9:30 a.m. news conference at City Hall by L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner, union President Alex Caputo-Pearl and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who mediated the final negotiations with members of his senior staff.
“Today is a day full of good news,” Garcetti said in announcing the agreement, which he said came after a “21-hour marathon that wrapped up just before sunrise.”
“Everyone on every side has worked tirelessly to make this happen,” the mayor said.
The tentative deal includes what amounts to a 6% raise for teachers, although details of how it will go into effect were not immediately available.
It also includes some help to reduce class sizes and removes a contract provision that allows the school district to increase class sizes in times of economic hardship. It was not immediately clear how that issue would be dealt with going forward.
But, said Caputo-Pearl: “We have started down a real path to address class size.”
Maybe the seemingly inevitable Covington kids-Trump meeting isn’t happening after all?
Republican Senator says her husband abused her
Years before her divorce, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst was assaulted by her husband after she confronted him about his alleged affair with their daughter’s babysitter, she wrote in court filings.
Ernst, a Republican who represents Iowa, said that during her 26-year marriage with Gail Ernst, she was the victim of verbal and mental abuse and a physical assault after which a victim’s advocate wanted to take her to a hospital, she wrote in public records connected to their divorce.
“Gail has been very cruel,” she wrote. “This has been an extremely painful journey.”
Ernst in August announced through a brief statement that she and Gail Ernst were divorcing. The divorce was finalized this month.
How could this end any other way?
It’s very early and it’s one national poll, but Trump doesn’t look to be in good re-election shape right now
Will Trump deliver the speech from the site of his unbuilt border wall?
Another day, another Trump administration departure
A. Wess Mitchell, the top diplomat in charge of European affairs, will resign from the State Department next month, creating a key vacancy at a time when European leaders are questioning President Trump’s commitment to historic alliances.
Mitchell, 41, cited personal and professional reasons in a Jan. 4 letter of resignation he submitted to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. His last day as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs is Feb. 15.
“As the administration completes its second year in office, I feel that I have completed what I set out to do in taking this position,” he wrote, citing the development of a Europe strategy and helping Pompeo transition into the job after Rex Tillerson was fired in March.
We’ve got a stand off brewing
The heroes we need
Members of KISS are ensuring that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers going without pay are working on full stomachs, giving away meals to employees affected by the partial government shutdown.
Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, who own a chain of airport restaurants called Rock & Brews, will feed TSA workers for free during the shutdown, they recently announced.
“While the TSA continues to work on our behalf without pay, we want to make sure we can at least provide them with a delicious meal to show our support,” KISS founder Stanley said in a Facebook video announcing the move.
This probably won’t make Brexit any more popular
Reuters snap: BRITAIN’S DYSON SAYS IT WILL MOVE ITS CORPORATE HEAD OFFICE AND TAX BASE TO SINGAPORE
On climate change, Americans are seeing what’s right in front of them
The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago finds 74 percent of Americans say extreme weather in the past five years — hurricanes, droughts, floods and heat waves — has influenced their opinions about climate change. That includes half of Americans who say these recent events have influenced their thinking a great deal or a lot.
About as many, 71 percent, said the weather they experience daily in their own areas has influenced their thinking about climate change science.
The survey was conducted in November, a few days before the federal government released a major report revving up scientific warnings about the impact of climate change, including the growing toll of extreme storms and droughts.
Another ominous sign for the U.S. economy
A banner day for discrimination in the military
Long live Scabby the rat
Scabby the Rat stands 12 to 30 feet tall, teeth bared and claws raised aggressively, with hungry, bloodshot eyes. The giant rodent’s sickly-looking underbelly refers to the ‘scab’ pejorative sometimes used by unions against strikebreakers, making it a global symbol of worker protest.
Courts and the National Labor Relations Board have issued rulings over three decades holding that the inflatables are permitted under federal labor laws or are symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment. But the NLRB’s current general counsel, Peter Robb, has had enough of the rat—to the point that since April 2018 he’s been looking for a case he can use to exterminate it, according to sources familiar with his thinking.
“GC hates the rat,” a senior NLRB official who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, told Bloomberg Law. Robb “wants to find it unlawful to picket, strike or handbill with the rat present.”
Americans are becoming less confident about the economy
An Iraqi scientist on death row says he was recruited to make chemical weapons for ISIS
Afari, who is 52 now and on death row, recounted his recruitment and life under the Islamic State in a rare interview inside the fortresslike headquarters of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Counterterrorism Department. An affable, neatly groomed man, Afari is among the few known participants in the Islamic State’s chemical weapons program to be captured alive.
He described in matter-of-fact detail the terrorist group’s successful attempts to make sulfur mustard — a first-generation chemical weapon that inflicted tens of thousands of casualties during World War I — as part of an ambitious, little-understood effort to create novel weapons and delivery systems to defend the Islamic State’s territory and terrorize its opponents. His account was confirmed and augmented by U.S. and Kurdish officials who participated in missions to destroy the Islamic State’s weapons plants and to kill or capture its senior leaders.
How did it take him this long to weigh in on the weekend’s biggest controversy?
Mexico had a really bad year
Mexico suffered a record 33,341 homicides in 2018, according to official statistics released Monday, breaking the record set in 2017, as violence fueled by a war on the country’s powerful drug cartels plagues the country.
More than 200,000 people have been murdered in Mexico since the government controversially deployed the army to fight drug trafficking in 2006. The previous record was 28,866 homicides in 2017.
Team Trump reached out to the Special Counsel’s office after BuzzFeed News’ bombshell article last week
Activists convicted for leaving food and water for migrants
During the summer of 2017, when temperatures reached triple digits in Arizona, four women drove to a vast desert wilderness along the southwestern border with Mexico. They brought water jugs and canned food — items they later said they were leaving for dehydrated migrants crossing the unfriendly terrain to get to the United States.
The women were later charged with misdemeanor crimes. Prosecutors said they violated federal law by entering Cabeza Prieta, a protected 860,000-acre refuge, without a permit and leaving water and food there. A judge convicted them on Friday in the latest example of growing tension between aid workers and the U.S. Border Patrol.
The Russian pop star at the middle of the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting has cancelled his U.S. tour
Emin Agalarov, the Russian pop star who is said to have helped arrange Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer at Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign, said Monday he has been forced to cancel his tour of the United States and Canada “due to circumstances beyond [his] control.”
In a video on Facebook, Agalarov claimed he had nixed the upcoming tour “against his will.” His lawyer said in a telephone interview with NBC News that he doesn’t want his client coming to America under fear of being held under a material witness warrant. Agalarov had been scheduled to perform in New York on Saturday night.
A mea culpa from a woman who “failed the Covington Catholic test”
If the Covington Catholic incident was a test, it’s one I failed—along with most others. Will we learn from it, or will we continue to roam social media, looking for the next outrage fix? Next time a story like this surfaces, I’ll try to sit it out until more facts have emerged. I’ll remind myself that the truth is sometimes unknowable, and I’ll stick to discussing the news with people I know in real life, instead of with strangers whom I’ve never met. I’ll get my news from legitimate journalists instead of from an online mob for whom Saturday-morning indignation is just another form of entertainment. And above all, I’ll try to take the advice I give my kids daily: Put the phone down and go do something productive.
Six things Kamala Harris cares about
Someone is trimming Trump’s waistline for social media photos
President Donald Trump’s social media accounts are filled with vile racism, idiotic xenophobia, and inaccurate statistics. And now we can add another category to the list: fake photos.
In recent months, Trump’s official Facebook and Instagram accounts have published photos of the president that have been manipulated to make him look thinner. If it only happened once you might be able to chalk it up as an accident. But Gizmodo has discovered at least three different retouched photos on President Trump’s social media pages that have been published since October of 2018.
Trump goes through the motions on MLK Day
More and more TSA agents are staying home as the shutdown drags on
The number of U.S. airport screeners who took unscheduled absences rose to 10 percent on Sunday, more than triple that of a year ago as the stalemate over the government shutdown continued over a holiday weekend, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
The number of unscheduled TSA absences hit the highest level seen so far, the TSA said in a statement Monday as the shutdown entered its 31st day. A year ago the absence rate was 3.1 percent.
Chris Christie goes after the “riffraff” in the Trump administration in a new excerpt from his memoir — Let Me Finish
Instead of high-quality, vetted appointees for key administration posts, he got the Russian lackey and future federal felon Michael Flynn as national security adviser. He got the greedy and inexperienced Scott Pruitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
He got the high-flying Tom Price as health and human services secretary. He got the not-ready-for-prime-time Jeff Sessions as attorney general, promptly recusing himself from the Justice Department’s Russian-collusion probe. He got a stranger named Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. …
He got the Apprentice show loser Omarosa Manigault in whatever Omarosa’s job purported to be. (I never could figure that one out.) … Too few Kellyanne Conways. A boatload of Sebastian Gorkas. Too few Steven Mnuchins.
He’s really going to do it, isn’t he?
In 2018, the rich got richer
Oxfam said the wealth of more than 2,200 billionaires across the globe had increased by $900bn in 2018 – or $2.5bn a day. The 12% increase in the wealth of the very richest contrasted with a fall of 11% in the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population.
As a result, the report concluded, the number of billionaires owning as much wealth as half the world’s population fell from 43 in 2017 to 26 last year. In 2016 the number was 61.
Kamala Harris announces presidential bid with nods to the past
Senator Kamala Harris, the California Democrat and barrier-breaking prosecutor who became the second black woman to serve in the United States Senate, declared her candidacy for president on Monday, joining an increasingly crowded and diverse field in what promises to be a wide-open nomination process.
The announcement was bathed in symbolism: Ms. Harris chose to enter the race on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, an overt nod to the historic nature of her candidacy, and her timing was also meant to evoke Shirley Chisholm, the New York congresswoman who became the first woman to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president 47 years ago this week.
Sign of the times, 30 days into the longest government shutdown in American history
Buzzfeed News seems exceedingly confident about their Trump-Cohen bombshell, despite the Mueller pushback
“We’re being told to stand our ground. Our reporting is going to be borne out to be accurate, and we’re 100% behind it,” [Cormier explained to host Brian Stelter]. … [The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist], who wouldn’t reveal his sources when asked, said the story had been in the works for months and went through a “rigorous” vetting process. The story was reviewed by at least three editors, Smith said. …
Smith said BuzzFeed is “eager” to understand which parts of the report Mueller’s office is challenging as inaccurate. He said BuzzFeed reporter Jason Leopold, who coauthored the story, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for details on how the statement from Mueller’s office was constructed. …
Journalist Carl Bernstein, a CNN political analyst, told Stelter on Sunday that he thought it was “going to take time before we fully understand what the exact truth is here.”
At one point, Stelter asked the pair, “What if your sources are wrong?” Cormier replied, “They’re not.”
An intentionally misrepresented solution to an intentionally misrepresented crisis
A Republican senator who encouraged President Donald Trump to pursue a compromise with congressional Democrats to end the partial government shutdown described the White House’s offer this weekend as “a straw man proposal” that is not intended to become law.
“What I encouraged the White House to do and multiple others encouraged the White House to do is put out a proposal,” Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said Sunday during an interview with host Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week.”
“They’ve listened to a lot of Democrat and Republican members for the last month. They’ve heard all the demands, they know all the background on it,” said Lankford, a member of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
“Put out a straw man proposal. Get something out there the president can say, ‘I can support this’ — and has elements from both sides. Put it on the table, then open it up for debate.”
Mueller’s favorite attorney is at it again
Rudy Giuliani was “defending” the president on the Sunday morning shows again this week, and it’s gone about as well as you’d expect.
On CNN”s State of the Union, Giuliani said, “As far as I know, President Trump did not have discussions with [Michael Cohen about his Congressional testimony] — Certainly no discussions with him in which he told him or counseled him to lie.” But he also acknowledged, “I don’t know if it happened or it didn’t happen… I have no knowledge if he spoke to him,” before adding, “And so what if he talked to him about it?”
“If he had any discussions with him, they’d be about the version of the events that Michael Cohen gave them which they all believe was true,” Giuliani also explained, and angrily accused host Jake Tapper of having “hysteria” after Tapper said he wanted to learn the truth about the Cohen-Trump interactions. “You should all be careful,” Giuliani said.
On Meet the Press, Giuliani was “100 percent certain” that Trump did not ask Cohen to lie.
“I can tell you his counsel to Michael Cohen throughout that entire period was, ‘Tell the truth,’ he added. “We thought he was telling the truth. I still believe he may have been telling the truth when he testified before Congress,”
Giuliani also admitted on MTP that Trump’s discussions about building a Trump Tower in Moscow went on “throughout 2016”, and possibly even into November — even though Trump said then and later that he had no business with Russia.
“It’s our understanding that [the Trump Tower Moscow talks] went on throughout 2016, not a lot of them, but there were conversations, can’t be sure of the exact date. … Probably up to — could be up to as far as October, November.”
It’s morning in America, and the president has already
1) Threatened to hunt down and deport DACA recipients if Democrats don’t accept his offer to temporarily cancel his cancellation of DACA, while also assuring the (pissed-off) far right that the deal doesn’t include amnesty, while also suggesting full amnesty would be an option sometime later, if he gets what he wants.
2) Used the severe winter weather striking much of the U.S. to make fun of climate change (which is causing more severe weather, year-round).
3) Attempted to rebrand Nancy Pelosi as… a “radical Democrat.”
4) Made another effort to dominate Pelosi in response to her cancellation of his State of the Union speech, insisting he has “so many options” which include “doing it as per your written offer (made during the Shutdown, security is no problem), and my written acceptance,” whatever that is supposed to mean.
Another reason why Trump’s deal carries little weight
Trump’s big announcement: repeat his prime time address and add a D.O.A. proposal extending the limbo of DACA/TPS recipients
Below are some highlights from the reaction to Trump’s Saturday theatrics.
Democrats were hopeful that the president was finally willing to reopen government and proceed with a much-need discussion to protect the border. Unfortunately, initial reports make clear that his proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives. It is unlikely that any one of these provisions alone would pass the House, and taken together, they are a non-starter.
[Senator Dick Durbin], who co-authored the [bipartisan] BRIDGE Act which is said to be part of the POTUS proposal to end the shutdown, says he “cannot support the proposed offer as reported”
The stuff Trump is talking about right now is pretty much verbatim the stuff offered in the last version of a proposal, sent as a letter 2 weeks ago, plus a legislative extension of existing DACA and TPS protections.
“The radical left can never control our borders. I will never let it happen. Walls are not immoral,” President Trump says, minutes after calling for both sides to work together for common compromise.
McConnell, who has said repeatedly only bills with support of Trump and Democrats can end shutdown, says he will hold vote on Trump proposal — even though Dems are rejecting it. “Everyone has made their point—now it’s time to make a law. I intend to move to this legislation this week”
Trump’s “asylum reforms” riff is code for denying due process for unaccompanied minors and eviscerating [the] Flores Settlement. Means that kids who now get protection will get sent back to face death and kids will be detained for as long as Trump wants.
Isn’t this a kind of hostage-taking squared? First end the programs. Then shut the government. Then promise to temporarily restore the programs you’ve ended & reopen the government you have closed, in return for the ransom of money for a wall that 55-60% of country consistently opposes?
Unless I missed it, Trump expressed no sympathy for federal workers who are furloughed or working without pay.
[I’m told] there’s increasing nervousness inside the White House that Trump’s gambit will fail with Dems, which seems clear at this point — but also that it will hurt him with his base, which has supported him thru shutdown.
Trump proposes amnesty. We voted for Trump and got Jeb!
The pile-on begins and it’s not just from Dems. NumbersUSA head Roy Beck calls Trump’s proposal “a loser for the forgotten American workers who were central to his campaign promises.”
The last time Trump faced intense criticism from the immigration hawks in his base — when he was prepared to sign a clean CR — he did a 180 & triggered the shutdown. Its hard to picture him backing away a 2nd time (no guarantee he will) without jeopardizing their support.
[White House Chief of Staff] Mick Mulvaney is blaming Democrats if [federal workers] don’t get paid next week: “If the bill is filibustered on Tuesday, and we do not get a motion to proceed, people will not get paid. I will be very curious to see how the Democrats — especially in the Senate — choose to deal w/ this piece of legislation.”