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WASHINGTON- House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) in a Wednesday morning tweet announced that later today he will introduce comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Goodlatte and fellow GOP co-sponsors Reps. Michael McCaul (Texas), Raul Labrador (Idaho), and Martha McSally (Ariz.) teased the legislation in a Tuesday Wall Street Journal op-ed.

The legislation, according to the Journal article, would allocate funds for the construction of a wall along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border as well provide money for technological advances designed to enhance security. Funds for 10,000 additional border and customs patrol officers also would be provided.

The legislation seeks to end chain-migration and the diversity lottery.  The Department of Justice would be authorized to withhold grants from jurisdictions that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

The legislation would allow recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) to apply for three-year renewable status.

Goodlatte was included Tuesday’s bipartisan-bicameral White House meeting with President Donald Trump in which lawmakers discussed a path forward on DACA.

Trump during the meeting referenced Goodlatte’s bill and suggested that the administration favorably views the measure.

The legislation reportedly has the backing of House GOP leaders.

The DACA program expires on March 5.

Several DACA bills are under consideration.

The debate over DACA comes as lawmakers are attempting to negotiate a comprehensive budget agreement. The government will run out of money at 11:59:59 p.m. EST on Jan. 19 if Congress does not pass some sort of spending bill. Many Democrats have said they will not vote for a spending bill that does not include a DACA fix.

Republican congressional leaders have said DACA should be kept separate from appropriations.

WASHINGTON— Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, announced Thursday that he will not be seeking re-election in 2018.

In a statement, Goodlatte explained that he is coordinating his departure with the end of his term as chair.

“With my time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters,” Goodlatte said.

Goodlatte noted that while he will be leaving, he intends to put the remainder of his time to good use in helping his colleagues fulfill his party’s agenda, including on criminal justice reform, immigration, tax reform and rolling back the Affordable Care Act.

“I look forward to working with the House Leadership, the Senate, and President Trump in bringing real conservative change to our country,” Goodlatte said.

Goodlatte joined the House in 1993.

He is the 23rd Republican member of the lower chamber to announce that he will not be running, coming on the heels of

By Andres Del Aguila

WASHINGTON – Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, on Tuesday raised concerns that groups that oppose Israel contribute to the steep rise of anti-Semitism on college campuses across the United States.

“I’m concerned about the so-called BDS movement – an effort that is boycott, divestment and sanctions seeks to end international support of Israel,” Goodlatte said during a House Judiciary hearing to examine the rise of anti-Semitism on college campuses. “I will do everything that I can to ensure that [the American and Israel] relationship remains strong. There are those who disagree in various ways of course, including students, faculty and administrators on college campuses.”

The BDS movement is a global campaign led by Palestinians “that works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law,” according to the website

Tuesday’s hearing was in response to an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) audit of anti-Semitic incidents released Thursday that shows a 67 percent increase this year. The ADL discovered 1,299 incidents across the U.S., and a “disturbingly high number” occurred at college campuses.

The audit includes criminal and non-criminal acts such as harassment, intimidation, hate propaganda, threats and slurs. The ADL found a spike after the August  “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., where white nationalists clashed with counter- protesters.

ADL CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt also placed the blame on “radical left-wing” groups.

“Neither side of the political spectrum is exempt from intolerance,” he said. “We’ve seen a rise of anti-Semitic rhetoric from a radical left-wing viewpoint as well, one often rooted in extremely hostile views on Israel that can cross the line to anti-Semitism.”

Greenblatt added that criticism of Israel’s government does not constitute anti-Semitism but that radical groups on college campuses can create a hostile environment for Jewish students.

The ADL also urged the House to pass the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which would provide the Department of Education with a clear definition of anti-Semitism in order to assess if a violation of Title VI was committed with anti-Semitic intent.

Anti-Semitism is discrimination “based on an individual’s actual or perceived shared Jewish ancestry or Jewish ethnic characteristics,” according to the bill.

The Senate passed the bill with unanimous consent in December 2016.

Barry Trachtenberg, a scholar of Jewish history at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, warned against the “well-intentioned” bill.

“Attempts to legislate speech that is perceived as anti-Semitic, while seemingly well-intentioned, are in fact efforts to suppress ongoing campus discussions regarding the State of Israel and its supporters…,” Trachtenberg said. “They risk weakening the academic freedom of students and faculty who engage in criticism of Israel out of concerns for human rights and human dignity.”

He added: “Such restrictions threaten to exacerbate anti-Semitism on campus by perpetuating the long-standing myths that Jews are exceptional people who require special laws and regulations.”


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has set a modern White House record for the high staff turnover in his tumultuous administration — 34 percent, higher than any White House in decades, according to The New York Times.

Trump is on his second press secretary, second national security adviser, and third deputy national security adviser. Five different people have held the job of communications director. Trump’s chief strategist, health secretary, his original private legal team — all gone.  He is on his second chief of staff, John Kelly — and there is some question whether a third may be in the offing.

Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a Brookings Institution expert on White House turnover, says the Trump administration has “vacancies on top of vacancies.”  Experts say that, like a winning sports team, new members must stay long enough to jell into an effective working group.

But there isn’t “a huge appetite for many Republicans to explore jobs opportunities” in the Trump administration, according to Ryan Williams, a former spokesperson for Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee.

Where are the ‘best’ staffers Trump promised?

President Trump boasted on the campaign trail that his White House team would feature the “best people in the world.”

But his claim is being undercut by revelations that 30 to 40 people in the White House have yet to secure permanent security clearances a year into the administration and could potentially be unsuited to such high-level jobs, according to CNN.

The extent of the backlog coincides with uproar over the departure of White House aide Rob Porter, who was confined to an interim security clearance, after two ex-wives told the FBI he abused them.

The episode again raises the issue of whether some of Trump’s picks for key White House jobs — including his son-in-law and foreign policy fixer Jared Kushner, can be trusted to deal with highly classified information.

Gunmaker Remington to file for bankruptcy

Remington, one of the oldest and most well-known gun companies in the world, plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to USA Today.

The plan would allow Remington Outdoor Company to stay in business while restructuring its debt. The plan allows for Remington to reduce its debt by $700 million and contributes $145 million of new capital into its subsidiaries, according to the company.

Remington said in a statement that its operations “will not be disrupted by the restructuring process.”

“Payments to trade partners, employee wages and other benefits, support for customers, and an ongoing high level of service to consumers will continue without interruption,” it said.

Remington is owned by the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus will give up that ownership once restructuring is complete.

Trump administration to give a box of food to food-stamp recipients

The Trump administration plans to replace nearly half of poor Americans’ monthly cash benefits with a box of food. The plan would affect households that receive at least $90 a month in food stamps, or roughly 38 million people, according to CNN.

Instead of receiving all their food-stamp funds, households would get a box of food that the government describes as nutritious and 100 percent grown or produced in the U.S.

Called USDA America’s Harvest Box, the box would contain items such as shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans, canned meat, poultry or fish, and canned fruits and vegetables. The box would be valued at about half of the current Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) recipient’s monthly benefit. The remainder of their benefits would be given to them on electronic benefit cards, as before.

Part of the president’s fiscal 2019 budget blueprint, the idea immediately sparked concerns and questions among consumer advocates and food retailers. They feared it would upend a much-needed benefit for more than 80 percent of those in the program.

Amazon lays off 100s of employees

Amazon is laying off hundreds of employees, CNN reports.

The majority of the layoffs are affecting the company’s Seattle headquarters, but some global teams may be affected as well, though the company isn’t reducing its overall headcount.

It currently has 3,900 open corporate job listings in Seattle and 12,000 open positions worldwide, which point to the company’s “aggressive” hiring plans. Amazon says it added 130,000 jobs in the past year, which doesn’t include its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods.

At the end of 2017, Amazon employed 560,000 people worldwide

An Amazon statement says, “As part of our annual planning process, we are making headcount adjustments across the company — small reductions in a couple of places and aggressive hiring in many others. For affected employees, we work to find roles in the areas where we are hiring.”

Koch-backed group launches ads against red-state Dems who opposed tax bill

The fiscally conservative advocacy group Americans For Prosperity will launch a $4 million television and digital ad campaign Thursday aimed at Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Claire McCaskill of Missouri for voting against the GOP’s tax cut, according to The Hill.

Donnelly and McCaskill are both up for reelection in states President Trump won easily in 2016. Trump carried Missouri by nearly 20 points and won Indiana by about 19.

Republicans had been hopeful that a few red-state Democrats in the Senate would join them in supporting the tax cut, which was passed into law in December, but none did.

At the time, the tax bill was enormously unpopular but recent polling has shown voters warming to the law.

Republicans are vowing to sell the tax overhaul to the public and run on the issue before a difficult 2018 midterm election for the GOP.

Justice Dept. plans to end office that combats racial, gender, sexual orientation and disability conflicts

President Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate a Justice Department office created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to help communities combat racial tensions, according to The Hill.

The Community Relations Service would be defunded, and its responsibilities folded into the department’s Civil Rights Division, according to BuzzFeed News.

Lee Lofthus, who heads Justice’s administrative office, told reporters that the division would be able to continue the office’s work without the employees currently working at the service. He added that officials decided to propose removing the office because of a “reorganization challenge” to save money.

The Community Relations Service was established in 1964 to help communities handle conflict related to “race, color, or national origin,” a directive that was later expanded to include gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious and disability issues.

Catholic school teacher fired after marrying same-sex partner

A Catholic school teacher in Miami was fired after marrying her same-sex partner, according to USA Today.

First-grade teacher Jocelyn Morffi lost her job at the Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School, just one day after returning from her wedding to Natasha Hass in the Florida Keys.

Morffi’s Instagram post says, “This weekend I married the love of my life and unfortunately I was terminated from my job as a result.”

The Archdiocese of Miami confirmed with the Miami Herald that Morffi was fired because she broke her contract under the church’s rules of conduct but wouldn’t get into specifics.

The decision to fire Morffi outraged many parents.

Cinti Cini, a parent of a student in Morffi’s class, told the Herald that parents didn’t know Morffi’s sexual orientation, but said they don’t care, adding, “Our only concern was the way she was with our children, the way she taught our children and this woman by far was one of the best teachers out there.”


‘Sports Illustrated’ makes waves with Swimsuit Issue

The 2018 edition of Sports Illustrated’s famous Swimsuit Issue came out today, solving the mystery of the cover model’s identity  which had been kept secret, according to USA Today.

Danielle Herrington, 24, becomes just the third black woman to appear on the cover of the coveted issue, joining Tyra Banks (1997) and Beyonce (2007). Sports Illustrated had teased that this year’s reveal would be a “moment for the ages.”

Herrington, a California native who first appeared in the magazine’s swimsuit issue last year, was photographed this year wearing a pink string bikini on Harbour Island, Bahamas. SI Swimsuit editor MJ Day called Herrington a “natural brand ambassador” for the magazine.

Herrington wrote on her Instagram “I dedicate this to all the young girls out there. Work hard, surround yourself with good people who believe in you and your DREAMS WILL COME TRUE!,” she wrote before thanking a long list of people.

The magazine is also making waves with this year’s issue by joining the #MeToo movement with an empowering “In Her Own Words” project.

Happy Mardi Gras!

It’s Mardi Gras — the name means “Fat Tuesday” in French, a reference to the tradition of indulging in rich, fatty foods before Lent, the season where Christians fast and give up worldly pleasures.

Millions of tourists are in or heading to New Orleans for its famous Bourbon Street Mardi Gras celebrations featuring elaborate parades, costumes and music, according to USA Today.

Revelers also enjoy traditional sweet treats — like purple, gold and green King Cakes.


Ryan under pressure from GOP conservatives

House conservatives are warning GOP Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to take a hard line on immigration or else risk facing a revolt in his own ranks, according to The Hill.

No GOP lawmakers are calling for a leadership change, but frustrated conservatives are pressuring Ryan to put a hardline immigration bill authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia on the House floor in the coming weeks.

The growing calls underscore how Ryan, who has not yet announced whether he plans to run for reelection, is walking a political tightrope after passing a massive budget deal that was unpopular with conservatives.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a GOP House Freedom Caucus leader, tells The Hill, “The [budget] bill that passed last week wasn’t consistent with what we told the voters we were going to do. We had better get it right on immigration.”

Trump officials face decision on lifetime limits for Medicaid

The Trump administration is facing a crucial test of how much flexibility they are willing to give states to remake their Medicaid programs, according to The Hill.

Federal officials have already greenlighted two states work requirements on Medicaid recipients, and at least eight other states are hoping to follow.

A handful of other states want to go even further by putting a lifetime cap on how long people can be enrolled in the Medicaid program.

No state has ever limited how long a person can receive Medicaid benefits.

But given that the Trump administration has already shown a willingness to approve conservative policies like work requirements, premiums and lockout periods for Medicaid, many experts and advocates think lifetime limits could also win approval.

Bill Gates: China, other powers ready to fill void if U.S. cuts foreign aid

Tech pioneer Bill Gates is optimistic that the U.S. can keep its historically influential role as a global leader, according to USA Today.

But for a second year in a row, he cautions that the nation risks losing its geopolitical clout if the Trump administration succeeds in slashing foreign aid, as in a new federal budget that prioritizes a jump in military spending.

Last year, the White House tried to reduce foreign aid by one-third, but Congress did not approve the cuts.

If the U.S. diminishes its role providing aid to poor countries, it could both disappoint allies and allow rival superpowers to step in and exert their influence overseas, Gates says, noting, “They’ll find China and others to help them out.”

First human case of new parasitic eye worm infection

An Oregon woman who had worms coming out of her eye is being called the first known human case of a parasitic infection spread by flies.

Fourteen tiny worms were removed from the left eye of the 26-year-old woman in August 2016, according to a study led by Richard Bradbury of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene reports.

The woman, Abby Beckley, was diagnosed in August 2016 with Thelazia gulosa—a type of translucent, half-inch eye worm seen in cattle in the northern United States and southern Canada, but never before in humans.  She was treated, and no more worms or additional symptoms were found.

Eye worms are spread by a type of fly known as “face flies,” which feed on the tears that lubricate the eyeball, scientists say.

Trump eyes Dems while touting infrastructure plan

President Trump touts his newly unveiled proposal to overhaul the nation’s infrastructure today, calling on Democrats who have been critical of the plan to make a “deal.”

Trump tweets, “Our infrastructure plan has been put forward and has received great reviews by everyone except, of course, the Democrats.”

Trump is expected to lobby lawmakers on the plan long-promised plan to revamp the country’s aging roads and bridges when he hosts key members of Congress at the White House on Wednesday.

That plan calls for the federal government to pump $200 billion into such an effort, with the hope of creating $1.5 trillion in total spending—half of which would require matching state and local spending on infrastructure projects.

Many Democrats oppose the plan, saying that it fails to offer the federal funding needed for a meaningful and effective overhaul of the country’s infrastructure.

Emily Sweeney’s luge crash stuns Olympic crowds

US luger Emily Sweeney suffered a frightening crash today at the women’s singles competition during the Winter Olympics, according to USA Today.

Sweeney was in her fourth run and in curve 9 when she bounced around the track before crashing.

Sweeney was conscious, and eventually got up and walked off the ice under her own power, though she was moving gingerly.  Sweeney went to a hospital.

Trump’s budget adds trillions to the deficit but voters probably won’t care

President Trump’s budget plan adds more than $7 trillion to the country’s debt over the next decade, yet polling suggests Trump won’t receive much backlash for raising deficits, including from those who voted for him.

Reducing the budget isn’t an important issue for most Americans.

According to a January Pew Research Center survey, just 48% of Americans said reducing the federal deficit should be a top priority for Trump and Congress to address this year.

The budget plan goes against Republican orthodoxy to eliminate or lower the federal budget debt and deficit. Some Republican members of Congress have voiced their frustration with raising deficits, which could derail Trump’s budget proposal.

Trump’s budget proposes ending federal funding for PBS, NPR

President Trump’s newly proposed budget includes a proposal to end federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, part of a package that includes $300 billion in new spending overall.

CPB provides federal funding for PBS and 350 PBS and NPR member stations that serve all 50 states, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa.

Responding to Trump’s budget, the CPB’s head said the cuts would hurt emergency alert systems and childhood programming, among other things.

CPB President Patricia Harrison says, “There is no viable substitute for federal funding that ensures Americans have universal access to public media’s educational and informational programming and services.  The elimination of federal funding to CPB would initially devastate and ultimately destroy public media’s role in early childhood education, public safety, connecting citizens to our history, and promoting civil discussions — all for Americans in both rural and urban communities.”

Trump’s budget proposes to end federal funding over a two-year period.

Adam Rippon hails ‘overwhelming’ support

Adam Rippon pays tribute to the “overwhelming” support he’s received as one of the first openly gay men to compete at the Winter Olympics.

Rippon says, “I’ve gotten so many messages from young kids all over the country that my story’s resonated with them.”

The 28-year-old figure skater won a bronze medal on his debut appearance Monday at the Pyeongchang Games.

His medal-winning performance comes in the same event in which Eric Radford became the first ever openly gay man to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics.

Snowboarding gold winner Kim is ‘a dragon’

Chloe Kim’s text from her father spurred her to win the snowboarding gold medal at Pyeongchang, according to USA Today.

His text, “This is the time to be a dragon. Today is the day the imugi turns to dragon.”

In Korean mythology, an imugi is a large snake. It eventually turns into a powerful dragon, one that can soar through the clouds and carries a golden pearl in its mouth, a perfect analogy.

Kim says today, “This is the best outcome I could ever ask for and it’s been such a long journey. Just going home with the gold is amazing.

South Africa’s ruling party demands president resign

South African President Jacob Zuma must leave office promptly so that the country can move toward political stability and economic recovery, the ruling party says today, finally disowning a leader who has been discredited by corruption scandals.

The national executive committee of the African National Congress decided to “recall” Zuma at a marathon meeting that ended overnight, says Ace Magashule, the party’s secretary-general, according to the Associated Press.

Zuma has agreed to resign and wants to stay in office for several more months, but Magashule said the party committee rejected that proposal to end uncertainty over leadership in one of Africa’s largest economies.

Magashule says, the ANC looks forward to an “amicable solution” and “it’s obvious” that the party wants Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma, who the party expects to respond Wednesday to its decision.

Tillerson raises ISIA alarm at meeting of coalition

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wants to refocus and reenergize the U.S.-led coalition charged with fighting the Islamic State group amid a series of confrontations in the region.

Tillerson tells coalition members in Kuwait, “The end of major combat operations does not mean we have achieved the enduring defeat of ISIS.  Without continued attention and support from coalition members, we risk the return of extremist groups like ISIS in liberated areas of Iraq and Syria and their spread to new locations.”

Tillerson says that the U.S. will provide an additional $200 million for stabilization and recovery efforts in parts of Syria liberated from ISIS control.

His comments come amid heightened tensions between Washington and Turkey, which has launched a military campaign against U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

Gene therapy to fight HIV – maybe

A San Francisco man’s body now controls his HIV infection by itself, and researchers are trying to perfect the gene editing that made this possible, according to the Associated Press.

Scientists removed some of Matt Chappell’s blood cells, disabled a gene to help them resist HIV, and returned these “edited” cells to him in 2014.

Chappell has been off medications for three and a half years and even was able to keep the virus in check despite cancer treatments last year that taxed his immune system.

Dr. Otto Yang of the UCLA AIDS Institute, says “Gene therapy techniques have advanced greatly. A lot of people are thinking it’s the right time to go back.”

But Chappell is one of the lucky few of the 100 others in gene therapy experiments able to stay off HIV drugs; the rest still need medicines to keep HIV suppressed.

Husband continues 40-year Valentine’s Day tradition for wife with dementia

Albuquerque resident Donna Kramer, 74, may have been diagnosed with dementia nearly four years ago, but that doesn’t mean she’s forgotten the sacred Valentine’s tradition that began months before she married her husband, 77-year-old Ron Kramer, in 1979.

Ron recreates the couple’s first Valentine’s Day together for nearly 40 years, and he’ll continue this Valentine’s Day now that Donna resides in an assisted living facility.

Ron was smitten right after meeting her and asked Donna weeks prior to Valentine’s Day what her favorite candy was.

Dark chocolate cremes from Buffet’s Candies, a gourmet candy shop serving the Albuquerque area since the 1950s.

The clerk told him back then that if he brought the box back with him the next year, they would only charge him for the candy. He’s done just that for 40 years.

Sen Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Photo by Doug Christian/TMN

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has set the stage for the upper chamber to next week begin consideration of legislation protecting the more than 800,000 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program from deportation.

“The bill I move to, which will not have underlying immigration text, will have an amendment process that will ensure a level playing field at the outset,” McConnell said in a floor speech early Friday morning after the upper chamber voted to end an overnight government shutdown.

McConnell’s action sets up a Monday evening procedural vote and is consistent with an agreement made last month with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that the upper chamber would consider DACA proposals during the month of February as long as the government remained open.

The program expires on March 5.

McConnell has said the Senate will vote on any proposal that garners 60 votes.

On Monday, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) announced that they intend to introduce legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients as well as allocate funds for enhanced border security measures.

The White House has rejected the measure as it does not conform with the Trump administration’s immigration reform framework proposal. The administration has said that any DACA deal must include $25 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and put an end to both the diversity lottery and chain migration.

A vote on the bill is nevertheless expected.

The McCain-Coons proposal complements a House bill that was introduced last month. The legislation is somewhat similar to a proposal by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) that also was recently rejected by the White House.

House Republican leaders and the administration have expressed support for a hard-line immigration bill introduced last month by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

WASHINGTON – The conservative Republican Study Committee today will ask House GOP leaders for a vote on legislation that would cut legal immigration by 25 percent, according to a CNN report.

“The Securing America’s Future Act is the framework to strengthen border security, increase interior enforcement and resolve the DACA situation,” the committee said in a statement provided to CNN. “We believe an eventual stand alone floor vote is essential. We oppose any process for a DACA solution that favors a backroom deal with Democrats over regular order in the House.”

The legislation proposes ending chain-migration and the diversity lottery. DACA recipients would be able to apply for three-year renewal status. Funds would be allocated for the construction of a wall along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border. Funds for 10,000 additional border and customs patrol officers also would be provided.

The legislation is sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) along with three fellow Republicans and is backed by the Trump administration.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) reached a deal on Monday to end a three-day government shutdown.

The deal stipulated that the upper chamber would consider DACA legislation in February.

Lawmakers in both chambers are floating various proposals to protect the program’s 700,000 recipients.

It is not yet clear whether an agreement can be reached on legislation that could pass both the House and the Senate.

WASHINGTON – The government told a federal judge in New Jersey today that it will seek a retrial of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), whose corruption trial ended in a hung jury in November.

The filing to the judge seeks a retrial “at the earliest possible date.”

Menendez and his friend Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, were charged with a bribery scheme in which the senator allegedly traded political favors for gifts and campaign donations.

Menendez also was charged with making false statements on his Senate financial disclosure forms.

Defense lawyers argued that the gifts Melgen gave his longtime friend weren’t bribes.

Government shutdown would impact 58 national parks

Planning to take the family to visit one of the nation’s 58 national parks? Might want to make alternative plans if a government shutdown happens tonight.

The nation’s 58 national parks—including Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite—became a lightning rod in the 2013 government shutdown, a scenario the Trump administration hopes to avoid if there is no bill to fund the government.

The Washington Post reported that administration officials are exploring ways to keep parks open and let visitors come in without government personnel.

Mexican candidate promises Twitter tit-for-tat with Trump

The frontrunner in Mexico’s presidential campaign says he’ll personally respond on social media after President Trump called Mexico the “number one most dangerous country in the world” on Twitter.

Mexico’s Reforma newspaper reported that Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a populist, left-wing former mayor of Mexico City, said that, as president, he would demand fair treatment from Trump.

The newspaper reported that said López Obrador said, “We’re going to respect President Donald Trump, but he’s going to have to learn to respect us.”

SCOTUS halts North Carolina redrawing

The Supreme Court blocked a lower court’s order for North Carolina to redraw its congressional district maps.

The court issued a stay order in the case, which would have required the state redraw its congressional district maps by the end of the month, according to The Hill.

The ruling comes after North Carolina Republicans asked the Supreme Court to block a federal court’s decision that the state’s maps were an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

Trump impactful far beyond tweets

President Donald Trump has the lowest approval ratings of any modern president, and faces united Democratic opposition, but Trump has had an important impact on everything from the taxes to regulation to Americans’ regard, or lack of it, for the nation’s institutions, according to USA Today.

Trump has shaken up security alliances that emerged from World War II and pulled back from global free-trade agreements.

Trump appointees across the federal government have rolled back regulations. Trump tweet attacks on the judiciary, the news media and parts of his own administration — the Justice Department and FBI–have accelerated American’s lack of faith in institutions. Trump judicial appointments will have the last word on the most controversial issues the country faces, from abortion rights to immigration laws to bank regulation — and unlike presidents, judges serve for life.

Ain’t no sunshine

The romantic 1970s song, “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone,” may soon be applicable to some in the U.S. solar industry.

President Trump is days away from deciding whether to impose trade tariffs or quotas on imported solar panels, according to the Hill — a decision that will close a major chapter in a dispute that puts tens of thousands of jobs on the line and has tested longstanding alliances.

The fight has split the solar industry, pitting imperiled companies that manufacture solar panels in the United States. The solar firms backing tariffs say they are the victims of unfair competition from China. U.S. firms that use imported panels and say that tariffs would increase their costs.

Pope shocks Chile by accusing sex abuse victims of slander

Pope Francis accused victims of Chile’s most notorious pedophile of slander, an astonishing end to a visit meant to help heal the wounds of a sex abuse scandal that has cost the Catholic Church its credibility in the country, according to USA Today.

Francis said that until he sees proof that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in covering up the sex crimes of the Rev. Fernando Karadimas, such accusations against Barros are “all calumny.”

The pope’s remarks shocked Chileans and prompted immediate rebuke from victims and their advocates. They noted the accusers were deemed credible enough by the Vatican that it sentenced Karadima to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes in 2011.

New York considers pay-to-drive

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposes charging commuters in some of Manhattan’s busiest areas $11.52, which, if adopted, will make it the first U.S. city to use cost to control congestion, according to The New York Times.

Similar traffic charges are already in operation in Singapore, Stockholm, London and Milan.

New York traffic congestion ranks second in the U.S. and third in the world, according to a draft report of the proposal, which notes that New York traffic is at an all-time high and public transit is in steep decline above and below ground.

U.S. presses to relocate embassy to Jerusalem by 2019

The Trump administration is accelerating its transfer of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, with a plan to have the facility ready by the end of 2019.

To expedite the move, the U.S. will not build a new structure, but will instead convert an existing consular building in West Jerusalem into the new U.S. mission, according to officials cited in both newspapers.

The plans suggest the administration no longer cares about cushioning the blow of its new policy, which has cast President Trump’s peacemaking ambitions into doubt.

The women’s march reprise: power to the polls

Women’s March organizers have ambitious plans not just to continue to fight President Trump and his agenda, but to upend the entire political system, according to Newsweek.

Thousands of people descended on Washington D.C. last year in what would be become a historic, “revolutionary” march for women on the first full day of Trump’s tenure.

This year, organizers expect to make history Saturday, with another rally: Power to the Polls.

The rally aims to launch a national voter registration and mobilization tour with a goal of registering more women to vote, and to elect more women and progressive candidates to public office.

AmeriCorps and Senior Corps official resigns in wake of bigoted comments

Former Navy SEAL Carl Higbie signs his book “Enemies Foreign and Domestic” at a a bookstore in Huntington, N.Y., in June, 2016.  (YouTube)

Trump administration appointee Carl Higbie resigned as chief of external affairs for the federal government’s volunteer service organization after a CNN KFile review of racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT comments he made on the radio.

Samantha Jo Warfield, a spokesperson for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), said in a statement released Thursday. “Effective immediately Carl Higbie has resigned as Chief of External Affairs at CNCS.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the former Navy SEAL and conservative media personality’s resignation.

‘White supremacists are American citizens,’ unlike undocumented workers

Conservative commentator Mark Steyn appeared to defend white supremacists, saying that, while they may be bad, they are U.S. citizens, unlike undocumented immigrants.

Steyn’s comments on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” came in response to comments made by CNN’s Chris Cuomo, who argued against vilifying “nice, hard-working” undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

Steyn said, ” Let’s just say he’s right. It’s irrelevant. The white supremacists are American citizens. The undocumented immigrants are people who shouldn’t be here.”

Porn star reportedly paid via LLC created before election

President Trump’s lawyer formed a private LLC to pay a former porn star $130,000 in exchange for not speaking publicly about an alleged sexual encounter with the then-candidate, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The newspaper reported that the alleged encounter with Trump took place in July 2006 after a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.

The company, Essential Consultants LLC, was reportedly created in Delaware — which offers a higher standard of privacy to business owners — by attorney Michael Cohen, according to the Journal’s report, which cited corporate records and people familiar with the matter. Following the Journal’s first report last week, Cohen said in a statement that Trump “vehemently denies” any encounter between the two.

Couple accused of shackling kids plead not guilty

The parents accused of holding their 13 children in shackles at a California home have pleaded not guilty.

David Turpin, 56, and Louise Turpin, 49, are facing charges of torture, abuse and false imprisonment.

They were arrested after one daughter escaped from their home, where police later found some siblings chained to beds and severely malnourished.

If found guilty of the dozens of charges against them, the couple face 94 years to life in prison.

Omarosa might have secretly recorded White House conversations

Former Trump staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman might have secretly recorded private conversations in the White House as she feared involvement in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, The New York Daily News reports today.

Sources told the newspaper that Manigault Newman, who was abruptly fired from the White House late last year, “loves” to record meetings. If such recordings exist, they could become part of the current probe into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

One source said, “Don’t be surprised if she has secret audio files on everyone in that White House, past and present staffers included.”

The White House’s recent ban on staffers having their personal cellphones was tied to Manigault Newman’s habit of recording her conversations, the source told the newspaper.

Manigault Newman, also known by her first name, is also reportedly seeking meetings with lawyers because of probe concerns.

Trump won’t go to Mar-a-Lago if government shuts down

President Trump won’t head to his posh Florida resort today if lawmakers can’t avert the looming government shutdown set to take effect at midnight, a White House spokesperson said this morning.

The president had been planning to spend the weekend at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach for the one-year anniversary of his inauguration hosting a Saturday night fundraising soiree with K$100,000 tickets.

The amount, confirmed to CNN by a person familiar with the dinner, pays for a couple’s dinner and photograph with Trump. A $250,000 ticket will allow a pair to participate in a roundtable. All proceeds will benefit the Trump Victory Fund, the source confirmed. Bloomberg first reported the ticket information.

If a shutdown is averted later today, Trump will fly to palm Beach Saturday morning, the White House said.

Kelly reportedly threatened to quit if Trump didn’t listen

White Chief of Staff John Kelly used to threaten to quit to get President Trump to fall in line with his orders, according to an article in the New York Times today.

One Trump adviser told the newspaper that Kelly’s threats to leave were one of a few kinds of leverage available to him.

Other advisers said Kelly will walk out of meetings that go in a direction he doesn’t agree with, and will yell at advisers who speak with Trump without Kelly’s authorization.

The retired Marine Corps general — known to run a tight ship in the White House as he attempts to bring order to an administration described as chaotic and facing high levels of turnover — has repeatedly denied that he has threatened to quit.

Comey headed to alma mater to teach ethics course

Former FBI Director James Comey has landed a teaching gig at his alma mater, William and Mary, and will join the ranks of the school’s teaching faculty this fall with a course on ethical leadership.

The Washington Post reports that Comey has accepted a nontenured position as an executive professor in education with the school, and will teach the course on ethical leadership in the Fall 2018, Spring 2019 and Summer 2019 semesters.

Comey has taught a series of lectures since last fall at historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C., where his initial reception brought some student protests.

Dolly Parton earns honors from Emmys, Guinness World Records

2018 is starting off well for Dolly Parton.

Parton’s 72nd birthday is today, and Sony Music announced that since the year began she has received honors from the Emmys, Guinness World Records and the Recording Industry Association of America.

Parton was recognized for holding records for the Most Decades with a Top 20 hit on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs Chart and Most Hits on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs Chart by a Female Artist, according to a news release. Guinness World Records came to Nashville to present Parton her record title certificates, and she is featured in the 2018 edition of Guinness World Records.

Trump has lowest approval of any modern president

President Trump is wrapping up his first year in office with the lowest approval rating of any first-year president in decades, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

The survey pegged Trump’s approval rating at 39 percent, lower than his three immediate predecessors at the same point in their presidencies. Fifty-seven percent of respondents disapprove of the job Trump is doing in office, giving Trump the lowest first-year approval rating out of any modern president in the history of the NBC/WSJ poll.

By comparison, President Barack Obama ended his first year in office with 50 percent approval, President George W. Bush ended his with 82 percent and President Bill Clinton came in at 60 percent, according to the NBC/WSJ poll.

GOP leaders promise future hardline immigration bill

Conservative House members say they got a promise from GOP leadership to pursue a separate hardline Republican-only immigration bill in exchange for their votes to pass government funding Thursday night — via a measure that several Republicans doubt could pass the House, let alone the Senate.

The bill is a proposal from key committee and subcommittee chairs Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, Raul Labrador of Idaho, Mike McCaul of Texas and Martha McSally of Arizona that includes many hardline immigration provisions that Democrats and some Republicans have said are nonstarters.

The immigration bill includes several controversial pieces, including mandatory worker verification, cracking down on sanctuary cities, changing asylum thresholds and cutting legal immigration to the US by 25 percent. The bill offers Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients indefinitely renewable three-year work permits but no pathway to citizenship.

L.A. Times CEO under investigation 

The Los Angeles Times chief executive and publisher is the latest media executive under investigation for inappropriate behavior, following an extensive NPR report.

Tronc, the parent company of the Los Angeles Times, began investigating Ross Levinsohn after NPR reported he had been named a defendant in two sexual harassment lawsuits as an executive at two different companies, Alta Vista and News Corp, before joining the Times.

Levinsohn’s former colleagues and employees described him as a party-loving executive who created a fraternity-like environment, often making women feel uncomfortable.

WASHINGTON- The Justice Department has ordered FBI agents to provide prosecutors  a with a summary of the evidence agents obtained during an investigation into alleged connections between an Obama-era uranium deal with Russia and the Clinton Foundation, according to unnamed sources that spoke with NBC News.

Last month, Assistant Attorney General Steven Boyd confirmed in a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering a request by Republican lawmakers to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the allegations.

The Hill in October reported that the FBI had uncovered evidence suggesting Russian entities had bribed interested parties prior to the Clinton State Department and other agencies approving a 2010 contract that allowed the Canadian mining company Uranium One to sell uranium deposits to the Russian state-owned nuclear company Rosatom.

The report claims that Russian officials donated millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation prior to the contract being awarded.

Many Democrats have said the Justice Department’s new probe is designed to distract the public from investigations into allegations of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Clinton told Mother Jones last month that the initial report was debunked and warned that the probe represented a “disastrous step into politicizing the Justice Department.”

During the 2016 race, the Clinton campaign said that she was not directly involved in the State Department’s decision.

The Department was one of nine agencies required to approve the contract before it went forward.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has said Congress will investigate the reports.


WASHINGTON – Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday said he has not seen any evidence that would warrant firing Independent Counsel Robert Mueller III.

“No,” Rosenstein said in response to a question from House Judiciary Committee (acting) Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) during an oversight hearing that probed claims alleging Mueller’s investigative team is biased against President Donald Trump.

When asked what he would do if asked to fire Mueller, Rosenstein said: “I would follow regulations. If there was good cause I would act. If there was no good cause, I would not,”  he explained.

Rosenstein, when asked if he had ever been approached about firing Mueller, said: “Nobody has communicated to me the desire to remove Robert Mueller.” Rosenstein said of Mueller’s appointment: “It would be very difficult to find somebody more qualified for this job.”

In May, Rosenstein appointed Mueller to investigate allegations of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

President Trump has at times dismissed the probe as a politically motivated “witch-hunt.”

Last week reports emerged stating Mueller dismissed FBI agent Peter Strzok after it was discovered that he had exchanged anti-Trump text messages with a another high-level Bureau agent.

The messages, which were exchanged prior to Trump’s election, were given to the committee on Tuesday evening.

Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) contrasted the texting scandal with that of the FBI’s and the DOJ’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she served as secretary of state. Goodlatte and many Republicans claim Clinton was given special treatment during the probe.

Goodlatte reiterated calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the department’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.

Rosenstein said any decision on the Clinton case would have to wait until the department’s inspector general releases his report.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Photo by Doug Christian/TMN

WASHINGTON- Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering the appointment of special counsel to probe alleged connections between the Clinton Foundation and an Obama-era uranium deal with Russia.

“The Attorney General has directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote in a Monday letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

“These senior prosecutors will report directly to the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel,” Boyd explained.

The Hill last month reported that the FBI had uncovered evidence suggesting Russian entities had bribed interested parties prior to the Clinton State Department and other agencies approving a 2010 contract that allowed the Canadian mining company Uranium One to sell uranium deposits to the Russian state-owned nuclear company ROSATOM.

Reports suggest some ROSATOM investors may have had financial ties to the Clinton Foundation.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) last month said Congress will investigate the reports.

Clinton has dismissed reports about the scandal as part of a Republican witch hunt and many of her fellow Democrats have said the probe is designed to distract the public from investigations into allegations of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

News of the potential appointment comes just days after reports emerged stating that the lobbying group founded by former Clinton campaign manager John Podesta and his brother Tony may be shutting down.