From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved

    This file is attached to from “Beast That Came Out Of The Sea” - Chapter Eight by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved.
    This link will take you to King Of The West 2019 Beginning At February since this page is all January 2019.


    So as 2018 has passed do we know who the "King of the West in 2019" is?
    Students of Bible prophecy are aware that the Bible talks about end-time kings of the North (Daniel 11:40), South (Daniel 11:40), and East (Revelation 16:12).    Yet, Bible prophecy students are aware that the Bible does not mention an end-time "king of the west" by name.    United States of America (USA) and/or Great Britain (UK, officially now called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).    The USA still remains the 'King of the West," but Germany feels it is time for Europe to arise.    The USA is west of Jerusalem, in a major sense is currently the "King of the West", and apparently is the Western naval power of Daniel 11:30--yet no King of the West seems to exist after the King of the North eliminates those with the strongest fortresses (Daniel 11:39).    Yet, there still are end-time kings of the North (Daniel 11:40), South (Daniel 11:40), and East (Revelation 16:12), but no mention of the West.
    All I can say is we have gone through a period of the "LAWLESS ONES," and they have embedded their poison into our society and we are at Revelation 6:17.

    Well Trade Wars became the thing in 2018 and the WTO goal was to make all nations getting a fair chance in economics with trade policies, but somehow the Progressive Socialist got into the program and it became a way to push those philosophies in that all should be even and for the last 8 years we were being stripped of jobs as they left to go to other countries, and we had a drop in our economy in the West and people living off of unemployment, or having to work two jobs to survive, because companies working persons under 30 hours so they did not have to cover their health insurance or retirement packages.    I thank God the Liberal Progressive Socialist AKA Democrats got voted out in 2016 and we got a president that cares.
    Donald J. Trump, is a business man not a politician, and you can see why he is getting things done and not selling the soul of this country away like Obama did for 8 years.    Ronald Reagan was an actor, and he did a better job also.    So this should be a major decision of who you vote for in the future.
    Trump is hitting them where it hurts, Russia, Turkey, China, Iran and the EU nations and will be continuing as you continue to read.
    Good job Trump get some religious input from Christians to do something about the lawless antichrists doing whatever with the laws for the last 6 years.
    Of course the cry babies have gotten their way somewhat, but who can trust them after the week is over and the FBI investigation comes up with nothing to add, will they have a thousand METOO's attack the White House?
    If Brexit leaves the EU, is it possible that the 27 other nations may try to leave it also to form new blocs.    That would be amusing since so many former prophecy predictors assumed that the European Union would be the 10 horns or powers on the beast.
    Whats new the Democrats and Obama couldn't get ACA up running in 2013 either without spending millions on it for a no go after spending millions on it to fix it.    So now they want to blame it on Trump?    So this time it is Trump instead of Kavanaugh.
    I still think that Trump's is planning for Oil price per barrel will be lower which will force Iran to suffer economically in 2019.
    I bought the Courier-Journal papers out of the machines every day and when they came out with an online version I went to that since it was cheaper for me.    I preferred it because I wanted to get information about the state of Kentucky and world news.    In time I have started noticing that CJ is not giving me unpredjudice news as I am noticing that all the news articles seem to be prejudiced towards the leftist Progressive Socialist Democratic views not only nationally but state also.    It is sad to me to see that occurring in the United States.    If you have been reading my pages you are seeing the views from both sides at least.    I have been watching One America News on tv and their website, which is the only way I can get accurate news from the other side.
    Will Frances' Macron win with a strong hand, or rollover like many EU leaders, if any of them may become the King Of The West?
    Special Counsel Robert Mueller appears to be investigating whether any of the president’s associates had prior knowledge to WikiLeaks plans to release private emails from the account of Hilary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.    Adam Schiff is trying to cover his own ass obviously in this event, and when is someone going to convict John Podesta?
    There seems to be a revolution of the people of nations of the European Union are wanting changes in the way that things are being run.
    FBI James Comey must have developed alzheimers after he was fired, how can an FBI person who has been in that position and at the level he was at would remember all of this in order to know how to do his job correctly.    So he is the liar that Trump claims or he is protecting his own life from the Democrat corruption that will come after him next.
    Macron, I think has finally realized that the "thugs" were all the French people who do not like his policies or the E.U.'s taxing them to death.    Macron will only kick the problem down the road and it will all come back to what the E.U. demands.    The "yellow vests" are not done yet just waiting to see.
    Strzok was terminated and removed from the Special Counsel’s team after it was revealed he exchanged a series of anti-Trump text messages with Lisa Page sent between December 2016 and May 2017.    Some believe this points to further bias, along with efforts to hide that bias, within the agency, but they erased their emails to cover their asses.
    Why did Britain decide to leave the EU?: Respondents who emphasized the national and personal economic costs of leaving the EU voted overwhelmingly to remain.    Regarding community, our survey data showed that if people believed that leaving the EU would reduce immigration and help to protect Britain from terrorism they were very likely vote for Brexit.    I suggest you suck it up and get out of the EU before it becomes totally Socialist and tries to take over all as you can even see now as the yellow vest riots in France, Belgium, and others may join in as the policies of the EU are causing the uprisings from the people.
    We should all feel for the person who is targeting innocent people.    Russia targeted Mueller in disinformation campaign.
    Usually when Rand Paul is telling us something we might want to pay attention, since this was corrupted as a norm for the 8 years of the Obama administration.    The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) is a United States law passed in 1938 requiring that agents representing the interests of foreign powers in a "political or quasi-political capacity" disclose their relationship with the foreign government and information about related activities and finances.    i.e. Clinton Foundation.
    Oil down $0.29 to $45.59, DOW down 414 to 22,445, and with oil at $45.59 and no profit is made on a barrel of oil below $30, which means Iran is only making $15.59 a barrel, which used to be $45 a barrel.    So the eight countries buying Iran's oil will not pay more than that, or they will have to go somewhere else.
    So will we have a "King of the West," I do not know, and I hope that those who believe will get raptured when Jesus Christ, returns to take us away from what is happening.


12/31/2018 U.S. Border Chief unveils plans for border wall funding by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Oct. 29, 2018, file photo, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, right,
speaks as Commander of United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense
Command Gen. Terrence John O’Shaughnessy, left, listens during a news conference in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    The nation’s border chief is speaking out on how the federal government plans to spend roughly five billion dollars being requested for the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as the government shutdown enters week two.
    During an interview that aired on Sunday, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan insisted the funding will cover more than just a barrier at the border.
    “What we’re talking about is not just a dumb barrier,” he said.    “We’re talking about sensors, cameras, lighting, access roads for our agents, a system that helps us secure that area of the border.    That’s what we were asking Congress.”
    Commissioner McAleenan said border security will take a multi-faceted approach, including new technology, to stop the flow of illegal immigration and drugs from entering the U.S.
    “When you’re talking about 60,000 people flowing across the border, when you’re talking about drug smuggling increasing between ports of entry, hard narcotics, synthetic opioids, methamphetamine coming — 25 percent increase the — last year.    We’ve seen it increase again the first three months of this year.    We need a barrier to help us stop that,” he said.
    Commissioner McAleenan also confirmed officials have completed construction of 35 miles of the wall, with 300 million dollars from the 2017 fiscal budget.
    Last week, President Trump said the government shutdown will not end until border funding is secured, adding he plans to visit a new stretch of the wall at the end of January.
    Trump tweet: “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. Hard to believe there was a Congress & President who would approve!

12/31/2018 President Trump urges Democrats to ‘come back from vacation’ by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Friday, Dec. 21, 2018 file photo, President Donald Trump makes a statement on the possible government shutdown
before signing criminal just reform legislation in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
    President Trump tells congressional Democrats he is ready to make a deal and end the government shutdown.
    In a series of tweets on Monday, he urged Democrats to return from vacation and give Republicans the votes necessary for border security.     He pointed out Democrats voted for similar legislation in both 2006 and 2013, and asked them to do it again and so he can get it done.
    President Trump also called out lawmakers for claiming the wall is old technology and won’t work for security, saying it does when properly built.
    This comes as Democrats are set to introduce a number of bills when they take control of the House this week, which includes a short-term spending package to re-open the government.
    Reports claim Democrats will propose legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security through February, but likely will not give President Trump the funding he wants for the border wall.
    Trump tweets: “I’m in the Oval Office. Democrats, come back from vacation now and give us the votes necessary for Border Security, including the Wall. You voted yes in 2006 and 2013. One more yes, but with me in office, I’ll get it built, and Fast!
    “It’s incredible how Democrats can all use their ridiculous sound bite and say that a Wall doesn’t work. It does, and properly built, almost 100%! They say it’s old technology - but so is the wheel. They now say it is immoral- but it is far more immoral for people to be dying!

12/31/2018 U.K. Patrolling English Channel for Possible Migrant Crossings by OAN Newsroom
Britain’s Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes talks to a Border Force officer as a Border Force RIB passes in the harbour,
in Dover, England, to discuss recent attempts by migrants to reach Britain by small boats, Saturday Dec. 29, 2018.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid is cutting short a family holiday to help deal with the “major incident” of a rising
number of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel by boat from northern France. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)
    The United Kingdom is ramping-up its efforts to prevent migrants from encroaching its border through the English Channel.
    Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced two patrol boats are being recalled from abroad to help address the growth in number of migrants attempting to reach Britain through the channel.
    He says the two ships will join three vessels already patrolling the channel, a move he says will help the U.K. “better protect its borders.”
    Javid also issued a clear warning to migrants considering making the trip saying, “I want to send a very strong signal to people who do think about making this journey is that we will do everything we can to make sure it is not a success in the sense that I do not want people to think that if they leave a safe country like France that then they can get to Britain and then just get to stay.”
    Javid said he is working with France to increase the number of migrants the U.K. sends back to the country.    This comes after Javid declared the situation on the channel to be a “major incident” last week.

12/31/2018 France’s Macron pledges more reform medicine in ‘decisive’ 2019 by Laurence Frost and Michel Rose
French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he poses for a photograph after the recording of his
New Year's speech at at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France December 31, 2018. Michel Euler/Pool via REUTERS
    PARIS (Reuters) – France’s embattled president, Emmanuel Macron, vowed on Monday to press on with his reform agenda in 2019 despite a spate of “yellow vest” protests that have challenged his government and extended a plunge in his approval ratings.
    Promised overhauls of France’s unemployment benefits, civil service and public pensions will be undertaken in the coming year, Macron said in his televised New Year message.
    Confounding some expectations of a more contrite message, Macron struck an unapologetic note as he urged voters to face up to economic realities underpinning recently enacted reforms of French labor rules, and others yet to come.
    “In recent years, we’ve engaged in a blatant denial of reality,” Macron said in the address, delivered – unusually – from a standing position in his Elysee Palace office.    “We can’t work less, earn more, cut taxes and increase spending.”
    In a veiled attack on the far-left and hard-right groupings active on the fringes of the often violent protests, Macron also decried self-appointed “spokespeople for a hateful mob” who he said had targeted foreigners, Jews, gays and the press.
    Almost 20 months after he became France’s youngest president, Macron’s popularity is at the lowest level recorded in modern French history.
    It stood at just 24 percent in late December compared to 47 percent a year earlier, according to a Journal du Dimanche aggregate of polls, as he struggled to draw a line under numerous setbacks.
    The current wave of demonstrations, which have brought disruption and destruction to Paris and other major cities, has yet to abate despite fiscal giveaways and a increase in the wage for the poorest workers.
    Protesters were expected to join the New Year crowds thronging Paris’s Champs-Elysees Avenue overnight, amid a heavy police presence.
    A scandal over Macron’s former bodyguard Alexandre Benalla, who was eventually fired after video emerged of him beating protesters, has resurfaced with the revelation that he continued to travel on diplomatic passports and exchange messages with Macron long after his dismissal.
    Macron said efforts to bolster international controls on immigration and tax evasion would be at the heart of European Union proposals he plans to announce in “coming weeks” – to be pursued in parallel with a domestic agenda reconciling ambitious reform with France’s commitment to social solidarity.
    “This is the line I have followed since the first day of my mandate, and which I plan to keep following,” he said.    “This coming year, 2019, is in my view a decisive one.”
(Reporting by Laurence Frost and Michel Rose; Additional reporting by Elizabeth Pineau and Marine Pennetier; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
[I wonder if Macron had his bullet proof vest on while he was saying the above, since he just incited the "yellow vest" to either tear up the towns again or go after him to be put in a guillitine.
Now I wonder if the powers to be in the European Union made him do it or else

1/1/2019 Brazil to inaugurate far-right firebrand Bolsonaro president by Anthony Boadle
FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro leaves the transition
government building in Brasilia, Brazil December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
    BRASILIA (Reuters) – Right-wing nationalist Jair Bolsonaro, who has vowed to crack down on political corruption, violent crime and ignite a moribund economy with deregulation and fiscal discipline, will be sworn in as Brazil’s president on Tuesday.
    The former Army captain and seven-term fringe congressman rode a wave of anti-establishment anger to became Brazil’s first far-right president since a military dictatorship gave way to civilian rule three decades ago.     Bolsonaro plans to realign Brazil internationally, moving away from developing nation allies and closer to the policies of Western leaders, particularly U.S. President Donald Trump, who sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to his inauguration.     As a clear sign of that diplomatic shift, Bolsonaro plans to move the Brazilian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, breaking with Brazil’s traditional support for a two-state solution to the Palestinian issue.
    Backed massively by conservative sectors of Brazil, including Christian evangelical churches, Bolsonaro would block moves to legalize abortion beyond even the current limited exceptions and remove sex education from public schools, opposing what he calls “cultural Marxism” introduced by recent leftist governments.
    One of his cabinet are former army officers, mostly fellow cadets at the Black Needles academy, Brazil’s West Point, all outspoken backers of the country’s 1964-1985 military regime.
    Bolsonaro, 63, has faced charges of inciting rape and for hate crimes because of comments about women, gays and racial minorities.    Yet his law-and-order rhetoric and plans to ease gun controls have resonated with many voters, especially in Brazil’s booming farm country.
    His vow to follow Trump’s example and pull Brazil out of the Paris Agreement on climate change has worried environmentalists.    So have his plans to build hydroelectric dams in the Amazon and open up to mining the reservations of indigenous peoples who are seen as the last custodians of the world’s biggest forest.
    Brazilian businesses are eager to see Bolsonaro take office and install a team of orthodox economists led by investment banker Paulo Guedes, who has promised quick action in bringing Brazil’s unsustainable budget deficit under control.
    Guedes plans to sell as many state companies as possible in a privatization drive that he forecasts could eventually bring in up to 1 trillion reais ($257 billion).
    That would help restore order to government finances.    The key measure, however, for reducing the deficit and stopping a dangerous rise of Brazil’s public debt will be the overhaul of the country’s costly social security pension system.
    Pension reform will be Bolsonaro’s biggest challenge since he has yet to build a base in Congress, where he has eschewed the political horse-trading that has traditionally helped Brazilian presidents govern the nation of nearly 210 million people.
    Bolsonaro may find that lax protection of the environment and human rights could have negative economic effects, more so than those faced by other far-right leaders, given the spotlight on Brazil’s Amazon jungle as a protection against global warming and because the country has more murders than any other nation.
    “I think they will be good on the economy and they will probably be bad for human rights and the environment,” said Brian Winter, vice president for policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas in New York.
    “The key question is whether those things can be separated.    Most of Wall Street says ‘Yes.’ I have my doubts.”
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Dan Grebler)

1/1/2019 Back my Brexit deal and let Britain ‘turn a corner’: UK PM May by William James
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks outside 10 Downing Street after a confidence vote
by Conservative Party members of parliament, in London, Britain December 12, 2018. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May urged lawmakers on Monday to back her Brexit deal, promising that it would allow the country to “turn a corner” and let the government focus on solving domestic problems such as housing and a skill shortage.
    May made the appeal in a New Year’s message little more than two weeks before a make-or-break vote in parliament on her plan for Britain’s exit from the European Union which is due to happen on March 29.
    The vote, which May postponed in December to avoid defeat, will be a pivotal moment for the world’s fifth-largest economy: it will determine whether Britain follows her plan for a managed exit and relatively close economic ties, or faces massive uncertainty about the country’s next step.
    “New Year is a time to look ahead and in 2019 the UK will start a new chapter.    The Brexit deal I have negotiated delivers on the vote of the British people and in the next few weeks MPs (members of parliament) will have an important decision to make,” May said in a video released by her office.
    “If parliament backs a deal, Britain can turn a corner.”
    Attempting to appeal to those within her Conservative Party who have criticized her leadership, and responding to criticism from opponents that Brexit has stalled her domestic agenda, May stressed her desire to move beyond the EU exit debate.
    “Important though Brexit is, it is not the only issue that counts,” she said, highlighting policies to address a lack of housing, skills shortages and strengthen the economy.    “Together I believe we can start a new chapter with optimism and hope.”
    The vote on May’s Brexit deal with the EU is scheduled to take place in the week beginning Jan. 14.
    May is still seeking reassurances from Brussels that a deeply unpopular fallback arrangement within her proposed deal, over the Northern Irish border, would only be temporary.
    It seeks to prevent the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland if a better solution to keep trade flowing freely cannot be agreed.
    The so-called backstop is the main obstacle between May and a victory in parliament, costing her the support of dozens of members of her own party and the small Northern Irish party that props up her minority government.
    The government and businesses are ramping up preparations in case a deal cannot be reached to smooth Britain’s exit from the bloc, amid warnings of delays at borders and disruption to supplies of medicines, food and components.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Alison Williams)

1/1/2019 Pres. Trump wishes a Happy New year to everyone, including haters and the fake news media by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Dec. 13, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump listens during a meeting
in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. The president recently took to Twitter to outline
his accompaniments in 2018 and wish everyone a Happy New Year. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
    Pres. Trump wishes everyone a happy new year, including “the haters and fake news media.”
    The president delivered the New Year’s day message on Twitter Tuesday, saying 2019 will be a fantastic year for those not suffering from “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” adding great things are happening for the country.
    This comes after he released a video on New Year’s Eve reflecting on 2018 and outlining his agenda for the new year.

1/1/2019 New state laws taking effect this week by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this April 4, 2016, file photo, California Gov. Jerry Brown holds a signed bill creating the
highest statewide minimum wage at $15 an hour by 2022. Brown steps down Jan. 7, 2019, after signing more than 1,000 bills
into law during his last year in office, most of which take effect with the Jan. 1 start of the new year.
Other new laws are taking effect in other states on New Year’s Day as well. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
    From the Golden State to the Big Apple, Americans across the country can expect to see some major policy changes as we kick off the new year.
  • Starting with minimum wage hikes, workers in a total of 20 states and nearly two dozen cities can expect to see a bump in pay.
    • This includes Seattle, where the city’s largest corporations will be required to pay their employees $16.00 an hour, which is more than double the federal minimum wage.
    • The move comes despite studies showing when Seattle became the first city in the country to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour last year it actually hurt low income workers.
    • In fact, a University of Washington study showed the wage hike forced employers to slash employee hours and pay, and also cost the city 5,000 jobs.
  • But minimum wage hikes are not the only new policies that could potentially hurt businesses as at least six states will begin enforcing a sales tax on out of state retailers.
    • This includes Georgia, which will now place a tax on online retailers that make at least $250,000 a year in the state, which critics say will only lead to higher prices for consumers.
  • Meantime, several states are also set to adopt new abortion statutes.
    • In Washington a new law will require contraception coverage in health insurance and if a policy covers maternity care, it will also be required to cover abortions.
    • In b>Kansas a new law – currently facing a court challenge – will ban telemedicine abortions, in which patients seeking abortion pills in consult with doctors through teleconferencing.
    • Tennessee will now require clinics to inform pregnant women of the potential consequences of the procedure.
    • While abortion providers in Arizona will be required to ask women if they were coerced into ending their pregnancy.
  • New gun control laws are taking effect in California as the state will now ban anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing long barrel guns.
  • Illinois will place a 72 hour hold on all gun purchases and will allow relatives or law enforcement to ask courts to remove guns from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others.
  • And what will likely remain a big political issue this year, immigration policies are also taking effect in several states.
    • Including Tennessee which will now enforce a law prohibiting sanctuary cities.
    • But in Colorado, Democrat lawmakers have made it easier for illegal immigrants to renew driver’s licenses by lifting restrictions requiring them to renew their licenses in person every three years.

1/1/2019 Border Patrol agents pick up last check of 2018, start new year without pay by OAN Newsroom
A family of asylum-seekers are taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents after they illegally crossed
the U.S. border wall into San Diego on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are working
into the new year without pay amid a partial government shutdown. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
    Border Patrol agents are beginning to feel the effects of the partial government shutdown.
    About 54,000 Border Patrol agents and U.S. Customs officers are considered essential government employees and are now working without pay in the new year.    Their last paycheck was issued over the weekend.    It remains unclear when the next time they will be paid will be.
    Pres. Trump slammed Democrats in a tweet last week for dragging out the shutdown, saying border agents want the wall as a matter of national security.

1/1/2019 Peru’s Vizcarra vows to fight graft after turn in Odebrecht case by Ursula Scollo
FILE PHOTO: Peru's President Martin Vizcarra speaks to foreign media at the
government palace in Lima, Peru October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo
    LIMA (Reuters) – Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra on Tuesday denounced a surprise decision by Peru’s top prosecutor to remove two key investigators responsible for probing the massive graft scandal triggered by Brazilian builder Odebrecht.
    Upon hearing the news, Vizcarra cut short his trip to Brazil, where he had been attending the inauguration of President Jair Bolsonaro, saying he would return home to fight against “corruption and impunity.”
    “We emphatically reject the decision taken by (prosecutor general) Pedro Chavarry,” Vizcarra told reporters upon his return to Lima.    “We will announce measures after a technical and legal analysis, respecting the division of powers and the Constitution.”
    Chavarry removed prosecutors Jose Perez and Rafael Vela late Monday night, saying the duo had failed to respect authority and hierarchy at Peru’s Public Ministry.    The two investigators helped lead a special team that earlier this month announced plans to seek fines of about $180 million from local companies, politicians and businessmen for taking part in kickback schemes involving Odebrecht construction projects in Peru.
    Odebrecht in 2016 admitted in a plea deal with U.S., Brazilian and Swiss authorities that it had bribed officials in a dozen countries, including Peru.
    The team Perez and Vela helped lead has targeted people at the highest levels of power in the Andean nation.
    Four former Peruvian presidents, the current opposition leader and several local construction companies are all under investigation in connection with Odebrecht.    All have denied wrongdoing.
    Chavarry’s decision to remove Perez and Vela was announced days after Perez accused Chavarry of allegedly obstructing justice in a separate case involving several judges accused of corruption.
    Perez and Vela had also targeted former Peruvian presidents Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Ollanta Humala y Alejandro Toledo, all of whom are under investigation in connection with the Odebrecht scandal.
    Vizcarra said on Monday that Odebrecht should not be able to continue working in Peru because the Brazilian construction company had “contaminated private activity” and admitted bribing public officials.
(Reporting by Ursula Scollo; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Paul Simao)

1/1/2019 DHS Secretary: Migrants bringing ill children sparks humanitarian crisis by OAN Newsroom
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks in front of the border wall separating Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego,
Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, in San Diego. Nielsen says an appeal will be filed as soon as possible on the decision by a judge to
temporarily bar the Trump administration from refusing asylum to immigrants who cross the southern border illegally. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
    DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says migrant caravans have produced a humanitarian crisis at the United States-Mexico border.
    On Twitter, Nielsen said an increasing number of children with illnesses are arriving illegally.    The Secretary urged congress to end the 1997 Flores ruling, which the DHS believes encourages migrants to bring children into the United States.
    Her remarks come after she visited the border in Texas, where two migrant children died after arriving in the country in poor health.
    Secretary Nielsen added several agencies are working to help sick migrant minors before detained family units are put-up for deportation.
    Kirstjen Nielsen tweet: “We are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis on the border. We continue to see an increase of children arriving illegally w illnesses. I have engaged USCG, HHS, DOD, and CDC but Congress must amend the TVPRA and end the Flores agreement to address the root causes of this crisis.”

1/2/2019 U.S. agents fire tear gas into Mexico at ‘violent mob’ near border
A U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) agent points his weapon at migrants as they prepare to cross
the border fence illegally from Mexico into the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico, January 1, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
    TIJUANA, Mexico (Reuters) – U.S. border agents launched tear gas into Mexico early on Tuesday to deter a group of migrants that one official called “a violent mob” from crossing over from Tijuana, according to a Reuters witness and the U.S. government.
    Clouds of the noxious gas could be seen wafting up from around the fence at the border.    One migrant picked up a canister and threw it back into U.S. territory.
    U.S. officials said the group had attacked agents with projectiles but a Reuters witness did not see any migrants throwing rocks at U.S. agents.
    Tijuana has become a flashpoint in the debate over U.S. immigration policy, which has been intensified by the recent deaths of two migrant children in American custody and a partial U.S. government shutdown over U.S. President Donald Trump’s demand for $5 billion in funding for a wall along the border with Mexico.
    A previous incident in November when U.S. agents fired gas into Mexico to disperse migrants triggered a call from Mexico’s government for an investigation, as well as international condemnation.
    Mexico Foreign Ministry spokesman Roberto Velasco said the government “regrets the events” at the border.    He said Mexico “advocates respect for migrants’ human rights, security and integrity, while calling for respect for laws on both sides of the border.”
    More than 150 Central American migrants approached an area of the border in Tijuana in the Playas neighborhood near the beach late on Monday.    Migrants said they thought security measures might be relaxed due to the New Year’s holiday.
    U.S. security personnel fired tear gas into Mexico after midnight as some migrants prepared to climb a border fence, according to the Reuters witness.    During a second attempt, migrants began to pass youths and children over the razor wire along the fencing to the U.S. side.
    U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Katie Waldman called the group “a violent mob” and said they had thrown projectiles at agents who responded with “the minimum force necessary to defend themselves.”
    “Congress needs to fully fund the border wall,” Waldman said in a statement.
    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a statement the gas was aimed upwind of people throwing rocks on the Mexican side who obstructed agents from helping the children being passed over razor wire.
    The CBP statement said agents had not directly targeted the migrants attempting to cross the fence with tear gas and pepper spray.
    A Reuters witness documented in one photo where a migrant had been hit by what appeared to be a gas canister.
    Human rights group Amnesty International’s deputy director of research Justin Mazzola described the use of tear gas against migrants “cruel and inhumane” and called for an independent investigation.
    “The Trump administration is defying international law and orchestrating a crisis by deliberately turning asylum-seekers away from ports of entry, endangering families who see no choice but to take desperate measures in their search for protection,” he said in a statement.
    CBP said most of the migrants attempting to cross returned to Mexico while 25 people, including two teenagers, were detained.
    Thousands of Central American migrants have been camping at shelters in Tijuana since arriving in November after traveling in caravans across Mexico to reach the U.S. border, where many have hoped to request asylum.
    Mexico’s new leftist president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has sought not to antagonize Trump over the U.S. president’s demands for a border wall.    He obtained a pledge from the United States to contribute billions of dollars for development in Mexico’s poor south and Central America in order to deter migration.
    Trump has backed away from his campaign pledge to make Mexico pay for a wall, but just last week he threatened to close the border with Mexico unless he gets the money he wants from U.S. lawmakers for a barrier.
    The United States has also pushed Mexico to house Central American migrants while they seek U.S. asylum.
(Reporting by Mohammed Salem; Additional reporting by David Shepardson in WASHINGTON, Mica Rosenberg in NEW YORK and Michael O’Boyle in MEXICO CITY; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Paul Simao and Paul Tait)

1/2/2019 Brazilian ministry of agriculture to be responsible for indigenous land
Brazil's new President Jair Bolsonaro cries after the swearing-in ceremony as he leaves
Brazil's National Congress, in Brasilia, Brazil January 1, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
    SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil’s newly inaugurated President Jair Bolsonaro has issued an executive order saying that the ministry of agriculture will be responsible for indigenous land in a victory for agribusiness that is likely to enrage environmentalists, according to the official gazette on Wednesday.
    During his presidential campaign, Bolsonaro had said that he was considering placing indigenous affairs under the ministry of agriculture, alleging lands should be opened to commercial activities that are currently banned.
    A former army captain, Bolsonaro took office in Brazil on Tuesday saying he had freed the country fromsocialism and political correctness.”
(Reporting by Stefani Inouye; Writing by Carolina Mandl; editing by Louise Heavens)

1/2/2019 UK PM May will find a way to get Brexit deal through parliament – Hunt
Britain's Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt speaks about "Britain's Role in a Post-Brexit World"
at the Fullerton Lecture in Singapore January 2, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su
    LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa May will find a way to get her Brexit deal approved by the British parliament, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Wednesday during a visit to Singapore.
    May postponed a planned vote on her deal in December after admitting it was set to be defeated by lawmakers.    She is seeking further assurances from European Union leaders ahead of a vote now due to take place later this month.
    “When Theresa May comes back with those reassurances that she has been seeking from the EU that the deal that is on the table is not going to lead to us being permanently trapped in the customs union … she will find a way to get this deal through parliament,” Hunt said during a question-and-answer session following a speech in Singapore.
    Asked about the prospect of holding a second referendum on the deal, Hunt said it would be damaging to democracy and the social consequences of not leaving EU would be “devastating.”
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan. Editing by Andrew MacAskill)

1/2/2019 Trump gives no timetable for Syria, wants to protect Kurds
U.S. troops patrol near Turkish border in Hasakah, Syria, November 4, 2018. REUTERS/Rodi Said/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the United States would get out of Syria “over a period of time” and wants to protect the U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in the country as Washington draws down troops.
    Trump said during a Cabinet meeting at the White House he never gave a four-month timetable for the withdrawal, which he announced last month against the advice of top national security aides and without consulting lawmakers or U.S. allies participating in anti-Islamic State operations.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

1/2/2019 Pompeo, Brazil foreign minister discuss democracy support for Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua
Brazil's Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo observes as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks
during a news conference at Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil January 2, 2019. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes
    BRASILIA (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has discussed with Brazil’s new foreign minister how they could support the people of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua “in restoring their democratic governance and their human rights.”
    State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said that Pompeo and Brazil’s Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo discussed deepening regional cooperation during a Wednesday meeting in Brasilia.    Pompeo was in Brazil to attend the inauguration of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
(Reporting by Mary Milliken; Editing by Brad Brooks)

1/2/2019 Remember ‘China, China, China’: acting U.S. defense chief by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, holds a
cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S. May 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told civilian leaders of the U.S. military on Wednesday to focus on “China, China, China,” even as America fights militants in Syria and Afghanistan, a U.S. defense official said.
    The comments came during Shanahan’s first meeting with secretaries of the U.S. military branches since taking over for Jim Mattis, who left office on Monday after resigning as defense secretary over policy differences with President Donald Trump.
    The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not elaborate on Shanahan’s views on China or what other guidance he gave during the meeting.
    Other officials have described Shanahan as an advocate of the Pentagon’s toughening stance toward Beijing.    The 2018 National Defense Strategy branded China as a strategic competitor.
    The Pentagon has said he played a critical role in developing the strategy, which singled out China and Russia as top threats, saying they wanted to “shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model.”
    The document said: “Long-term strategic competitions with China and Russia are the principal priorities for the Department, and require both increased and sustained investment.”
    The defense official said Shanahan told Pentagon leadership to follow the document’s guidance, particularly regarding China.
    “While we’re focused on ongoing operations, acting Secretary Shanahan told the team to remember China, China, China,” the official said.
    Relations between the world’s two largest economies have plumbed new depths under Trump, with a trade war and disagreements over Taiwan and the South China Sea.
    Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, had been Mattis’ deputy and it was unclear how long he will remain acting secretary.    Trump could face an uphill battle finding someone who can be confirmed by the Senate after Mattis’ acrimonious departure.
    Several candidates long rumored to be interested in the post had indicated in recent days, some publicly, that they did not want to succeed Mattis, who was respected in the Pentagon and enjoyed bipartisan support when he departed on Dec. 31.
    Trump acknowledged that Shanahan could be in the job for a long time.    The Pentagon appeared to be taking steps to prepare for an extended tenure.    This included naming David Norquist, the Pentagon’s comptroller, to perform deputy defense secretary duties provisionally as well as retaining his current title.
    Shanahan sat next to Trump during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.    In a statement on Tuesday shortly after taking over the job, Shanahan said he looked “forward to working with President Trump to carry out his vision.”
    That vision includes a surprise withdrawal from Syria and an expected drawdown in Afghanistan, America’s longest war.    Those decisions ran against Mattis’ guidance and were believed to have factored into his resignation.
    Shanahan, best known for his focus on internal Pentagon reform and his private-sector experience, had spent three decades at Boeing and was general manager for the 787 Dreamliner passenger jet before he joined the Pentagon last year.
    During Shanahan’s tense Senate confirmation hearing, the committee’s then-chairman, John McCain, voiced deep concern about giving the deputy job to an executive from one of the five corporations accounting for the lion’s share of U.S. defense spending.
    “I have to have confidence that the fox is not going to be put back into the henhouse,” said McCain, who died in August.
    The United States is Taiwan’s top weapons supplier, something that has long irked China, which claims the self-ruled island as its own.
    Earlier on Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jingping warned that China reserves the right to use force to bring Taiwan under its control but will strive to achieve peaceful “reunification.”
(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)

1/2/2019 UK PM May to speak to EU leaders this week over Brexit: FT
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May sits with members of her cabinet during the UK-Poland Inter-Governmental Consultations
at Lancaster House in central London, Britain, December 20, 2018. Adrian Dennis/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    (Reuters) – UK Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to speak to European Union leaders this week including     Dutch PM Mark Rutte, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Donald Tusk, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.
    May is seeking assurances that a so-called backstop plan, aimed at avoiding a hard Irish border, will be time-limited, the report said.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams)

1/2/2019 Illegal immigrant accused of killing Calif. cop makes first court appearance by OAN Newsroom
This booking photo provided by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department shows Gustavo Perez Arriaga.
Perez Arriaga, suspected of gunning down a California policeman, was in the U.S. illegally and was captured while planning to
flee to his native Mexico, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson announced, Friday, Dec. 28, 2018. (Courtesy of Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department via AP)
    The illegal immigrant accused of killing a California police officer is set to make his first court appearance.
    Gustavo Perez Arriaga will be arraigned Wednesday and is expected to be charged with murder.    He was arrested on Friday after allegedly shooting and killing Newman Police officer Ronil Singh last week.
    Officials claim Perez Arriaga was trying to flee to Mexico when they caught him.    Other people have been arrested for allegedly aiding and abetting the suspect.
[This incident is the visible reason of the corruption that sanctuary cities are not protecting Americans form illegal aliens by not reporting their crimes to ICE.].

1/2/2019 Pres. Trump holds cabinet meeting amid partial government shutdown by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019,
in Washington. From left, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt,
Trump, and acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    President Trump meets with his cabinet as the partial government shutdown enters its 12th day.
    Wednesday’s meeting was mainly focused on border security.    Pres. Trump made it clear that he was standing by his request for $5.6 Billion for border wall funding calling it a small price to pay to keep the country safe.
    The president pointed to countries like Israel where he says walls are essential to protecting their borders as examples of why the U.S. needs one.
    “We’re in a shutdown because Democrats refuse to fund the border security,” said Pres. Trump.    “They try and make it like it’s just about the wall and it is about the wall.    I said over the weekend to a number of people that you know, the wheel, the wall.    There are some things that never get old.    It’s never going to change.    The wall is your number one point of security.”
    Pres. Trump also recalled the recent death of a California police officer who was killed by an illegal immigrant, suggesting these type of incidents could be avoided with more border security.
President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019,
in Washington. From left, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt,
Trump, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

1/2/2019 Nikki Haley denounces UNESCO, calls it most corrupt UN agency by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Monday, Nov. 26, 2018 file photo, then United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley
speaks during a security council meeting at United Nations headquarters. Haley recently spoke in support
of the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw membership from a UN agency. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
    Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is applauding the Trump Administration for officially pulling out of a United Nations agency known for its anti-Israel bias.
    In a tweet on Tuesday, Haley slammed the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization for its extreme bias against the Jewish state.    She called it a cesspool and one of the most corrupt and politically biased UN agencies.
    Haley’s tweet: “UNESCO is among the most corrupt and politically biased UN agencies. Today the U.S. withdrawal from this cesspool became official. #USStrong.
    The Trump Administration announced it would pull out of UNESCO last year after Israel withdrew its membership.
    UNESCO has been repeatedly criticized for denouncing Israel’s claim on East Jerusalem by naming ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian territory.

1/2/2019 Report: Trade Rep. Lighthizer may push for additional tariffs on China by OAN Newsroom
U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer. (AP/Photo)
    U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is looking to keep the pressure on China ahead of trade talks with Beijing in the coming days.
    Reports on Wednesday claim Lighthizer has told Pres. Trump he may need to implement more tariffs on China as a way of getting leverage on the Asian nation.    He is reportedly concerned about the U.S. being given empty promises or temporary fixes and believes China may use those tactics to get concessions from the U.S.
    The two sides are in the middle of their 90 day trade truce and will hold face to face talks on Monday.

1/2/2019 U.S. ‘deeply concerned’ about Colombia coca cultivation: Pompeo
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with Colombian President Ivan Duque
at the guesthouse in Cartagena, Colombia January 2, 2019. Courtesy of Colombian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS
    CARTAGENA (Reuters) – The United States is deeply concerned about an increase in coca cultivation in Colombia, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, but will work with the Andean country to cut production of the raw material for cocaine in half by the end of 2023.
    Pompeo met with Colombian President Ivan Duque on a brief visit to the coastal city of Cartagena.
    “The United States remains deeply concerned about the surge in coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia since 2013,” Pompeo told journalists following the meeting.
    Colombia has long been ranked as the world’s top producer of cocaine, for which coca is the base ingredient, but figures compiled by the United Nations for 2017 showed the largest potential output since the organization began keeping records, with cocaine production at 1,379 metric tons.
    “We will continue to work with you Mr. President side-by-side to achieve our joint objectives to cut coca cultivation and coca production by 50 percent between now and 2023,” Pompeo said.
    Colombia’s acreage of coca, the raw material for cocaine, expanded 17 percent to 171,000 hectares (422,550 acres) in 2017, according to the U.N.    The uptick was due to increased productivity and growers eager to expand in hopes of getting more aid to switch to legal crops.
    The government wants to eradicate 100,000 hectares of coca crops in 2019.    Duque said last month that 2018 eradication would total more than 80,000 hectares of illicit crops.
    The U.S. commitment to helping Colombia dismantle organized crime groups is “vital,” Duque said in his remarks.
    Aerial fumigation with the herbicide glyphosate, suspended in 2015 after being linked to cancer, may be reinstated if it can be made to comply with judicial conditions, Duque has said.
    Duque and Pompeo also discussed the crisis in Venezuela, where hyperinflation and food and medicine shortages have spurred more than 3 million people to flee over the past several years, including more than a million who now live in Colombia.
    Pompeo commended Colombia for its support of Venezuelan migrants and said he and Duque discussed how to collaborate on aid with regional and international bodies.
    “All countries that defend democracy, all countries that share the value of democracy should unite to reject the Venezuelan dictatorship,” Duque said.
    The United States has placed sanctions on Venezuela’s debt and on some officials in socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s government, which it accuses of corruption and human rights violations.
    Maduro blames Venezuela’s economic problems on U.S. sanctions and an “economic war” led by political adversaries.
(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb, additional reporting by Helen Murphy and Mary Milliken; Editing by Helen Murphy, Phil Berlowitz and Tom Brown)

1/3/2018 Oil up $1.13 to $46.54, DOW up 19 to 23,346

1/3/2018 US fired tear gas into Mexico early on New Year’s Day
    U.S. authorities fired tear gas into Mexico during the early hours of the new year to repel about 150 migrants who tried to breach the border fence in Tijuana.
    U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that about 45 migrants got through the first layer of fencing but turned back when they saw the Border Patrol’s presence early Tuesday.    CBP said migrants began to throw rocks at agents from the Mexican side while others tried to cross the concertina wire, including passing “toddler-sized children” over the wire.
    Associated Press photographer saw at least three volleys of gas launched onto the Mexican side that affected the migrants, including women and children, as well as journalists.    The AP saw rocks thrown only after U.S. agents fired the tear gas.

1/3/2019 E-Verify system unavailable during shutdown amid lack of DHS funding by OAN Newsroom
    The partial government shutdown is having unintended consequences on the E-Verify system.
    Congressional lawmakers were notified on Wednesday, that the b>program is currently unavailable because of the federal lapse in funding to the DHS.
A closed sign is displayed at The National Archives entrance in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, as a
partial government shutdown stretches into its third week. A high-stakes move to reopen the government will be the first big battle
between Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump as Democrats come into control of the House. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
    This means any new hires for the lawmaker’s Capitol Hill offices will not be screened by E-Verify, to confirm their citizenship or legal status.
    This issue also affects more than 750,000 employers nationwide, who rely on the system to be in compliance with immigration laws.
    The Office of Payroll and Benefits has since announced it will screen new staffers once the government is re-opened.

1/3/2019 116TH Congress convenes today by OAN Newsroom
    The 116th Congress will convene in Washington, DC Thursday.
    Democrats will officially take over the House, while Republicans maintain control of the Senate.
    Several new members of Congress will be sworn-in Thursday, including a record number of women.
    This comes as the partial government shutdown enters its 13th day, as President Trump continues to fight for border wall funding.
In this file photo from Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, the House Chamber is seen at the
close of business of the 114th Congress, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)
    Senator Lindsey Graham warned the president against giving in on his demand for funding the border wall.
    During an interview Wednesday, the South Carolina senator said the president has made a promise to the American people to secure our border.
    He went on to say President Trump is going to keep challenging Democrats to a compromise, and if they continue to say no, they’ll pay the price with the American people.
    Graham added if President Trump gives in, he will no longer be effective in 2019, and it could be the possible end of his presidency.

1/3/2019 Rep. Pelosi poised to be elected as next House speaker in new Congress by OAN Newsroom
    Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi sets her agenda for the day, as she is poised to reclaim her title as House Speaker.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who will become speaker of the House on Thursday, walks to her new office
at the Capitol during a television interview, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. The Republicans will relinquish
the majority to House Democrats under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi beginning a new era of divided government. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    As the 116th Congress convenes for the first time Thursday, the California Democrat is expected to get her gavel back, push through new House rules, and then try to end the partial government shutdown.
    All that’s needed is a simple majority to pass a government funding bill, making it impossible for Republicans to stop it from advancing in the House.
    However, Senate Republicans can stall it in the upper chamber.
    “Of course there is urgent business that the new House and the new Senate will need to tackle immediately.    Democrats like to get finally serious about border security so that a government funding agreement can be reached, it can pass the House or 60 votes in the Senate, and get a presidential signature,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell.    “All three of those things are needed to make a law.    One partisan vote in the House tomorrow is not going to solve anything.”
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the shutdown vote is just a political sideshow.
    But changing the House rules will not be passed smoothly on Pelosi’s first day, as progressive lawmakers have pledged to oppose the bills.

1/3/2019 McConnell, Schumer strike deal to approve dozens of Pres. Trump’s nominees by OAN Newsroom
    Senate Republicans agree to hold off on confirming any more federal judges, in exchange for Democrat support on dozens of other nominations.
    The deal struck between Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, allowed the upper chamber to clear 77 nominees by voice vote on Wednesday night.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington,
Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, as the 116th Congress begins. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    McConnell said he’s glad the president can start the new year with more of his “rightful team” in place, including a number of ambassadors and U.S. attorneys.
    The Senate majority leader had hoped to confirm at least a dozen federal judges by the end of 2018, but the move was blocked by Democrats.
    Those nominations remain under review by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
    Trump tweets: “Heads of countries are calling wanting to know why Senator Schumer is not approving their otherwise approved Ambassadors?    Likewise in Government lawyers and others are being delayed at a record pace!    360 great and hardworking people are waiting for approval from....
    “....Senator Schumer, more than a year longer than any other Administration in history. These are people who have been approved by committees and all others, yet Schumer continues to hold them back from serving their Country! Very Unfair!

1/3/2019 China issues response to being singled out by Acting Defense Secy Shanahan by OAN Newsroom
    Chinese officials respond to a shift in policy direction at the Defense Department, under Acting Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
    China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Lu Kang tried to smooth over relations at a press conference Thursday, in response to Shanahan reportedly making efforts to counter Beijing as his top priority.
    The official touted the “relatively good communication” between the U.S. and China in recent weeks, but warned the country is not afraid to protect itself when necessary.
FILE – In this Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018 file photo, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, speaks to reporters on the
steps of the River entrance of the Pentagon. President Donald Trump says Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will leave his post on Jan. 1.
Trump announced Mattis’ new departure date in a tweet, and said he’s naming deputy defense chief Patrick Shanahan as acting secretary. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, file)
    “We will prioritize developing cooperation between our armed forces and those of other countries, including America’s,” said Kang.    “Also — looking at the bigger picture for our countries — if what we mutually seek is a partner, then we will likely get a partner.        But If what we seek is an adversary, then we will certainly get an adversary.”
    Shanahan said he’s committed to carrying out President Trump’s vision at the Pentagon, which includes protecting Taiwan and the South China Sea from Chinese military aggression.

1/3/2019 Flynn’s ex-business partner seeks trial delay in Turkey lobbying case by Sarah N. Lynch
FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn departs after his sentencing was
delayed at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., December 18, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
    ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Reuters) – Lawyers for Bijan Rafiekian, the ex-business partner of former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn, said Thursday they want to delay the upcoming February criminal trial into whether their client covertly lobbied for Turkey.
    During a hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Rafiekian’s attorney Robert Trout said he needs more time to review evidence turned over on Thursday morning, and plans to ask the judge to move the trial from February 11 to sometime in September.
    Rafiekian, a former U.S. Export-Import Bank director and co-founder of the consultancy firm Flynn Intel Group, is facing charges that he covertly lobbied for Turkey to discredit and extradite Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen from the United States to Turkey.
    He was indicted in December along with Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish-Dutch businessman, for failing to disclose their lobbying and lying about the nature of their work.
    Rafiekian is facing two criminal counts, including acting as a foreign agent and conspiracy, while Alptekin is facing six.
    Rafiekian has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and Alptekin has previously denied the allegations through a spokesperson.
    Rafiekian’s indictment came about a year after Flynn was charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for lying to the FBI about his contacts with the former Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak.    President Donald Trump fired Flynn in early 2017.
    As part of his plea deal, Flynn also admitted to lying about his role in the Turkish lobbying effort.
    The case against Rafiekian is being brought by prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia, and not by Mueller’s office.
    However, prosecutor James Gillis told the judge on Thursday that much of the evidence turned over came from Mueller’s investigators.
    Last month, a federal judge in Washington fiercely criticized Flynn for lying to the FBI in connection with Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and delayed his sentencing until he has finished helping prosecutors.
    It is unclear whether or not Flynn could be called upon to testify in the case against Rafiekian.
    Trout said Thursday that as part of his plans to mount a defense, he may seek evidence abroad, including possibly deposing relevant witnesses overseas.
    Judge Anthony Trenga ordered the defense to file a motion to requesting the trial delay by Jan. 21, and scheduled a hearing on the matter for Feb. 7.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Alistair Bell)

1/3/2019 Cargo ship’s lost containers bring windfall to Dutch islanders by Toby Sterling
A handout aerial photo made available by the Dutch Coastguard on January 3, 2019 shows floating containers
that have fallen from the container ship MSC ZOE. Up to 270 containers had fallen off
the Panamanian-flagged MSC ZOE, one of the world's biggest container ships, in rough weather near the German island
of Borkum and floated southwest toward Dutch waters. Dutch Coastguard/Handout via REUTERS
    AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dozens of containers with items including flat-screen televisions have washed up on Dutch islands in the North Sea after a ship lost part of its cargo in heavy seas, bringing a windfall for local treasure hunters.
    The Dutch Coast Guard said up to 270 containers had fallen off the Panamanian-flagged MSC ZOE, one of the world’s biggest container ships, in rough weather near the German island of Borkum and floated southwest toward Dutch waters.
    Containers broke open on the shores of the Dutch islands of Terschelling and Vlieland.    Others were floating or stranded off the coasts of Ameland and Schiermonnikoog, part of a chain of islands that guard the Dutch coast.
    The Coast Guard warned ships in the area to beware of floating containers.    Three containers holding hazardous materials have not yet been located, the Coast Guard said.
    Dutch media reported that local treasure hunters had found an array of items from containers whose contents had spilled, including light bulbs, car parts, Ikea furniture, clothing and toys.
    Local media carried pictures of groups of people congregating around beached blue containers and one carrying off what appeared to be a flatscreen TV still packed in foam.
    Such material is considered flotsam, and residents of the islands have a centuries-old tradition of collecting it.
    It was unclear if the goods were water-damaged.
    The mayor of the island of Vlieland, Tineke Schokker, said that the municipality doesn’t mind scavenging.
    “It’s just really nice of people,” she told local news agency ANP.    “Processing it would cost more than the stuff is worth, and anyway with the two officers we have it would be impossible to guard, the stuff is littered over the whole beach.”
A spokesman for the ship’s operator, MSC, had no immediate comment.
(Reporting by Toby Sterling, Additional reporting by Jonathan Saul; editing by Louise Heavens and Adrian Croft)

1/3/2019 Macron’s spin doctor to leave Elysee as yellow-vest protests simmer
FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron attends a joint news conference with President of Burkina Faso
Roch Marc Christian Kabore (not seen) at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, December 17, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Pool/File Photo
    PARIS (Reuters) – President Emmanuel Macron’s head of media relations said on Thursday he would quit, a sign that a grueling reform drive and a spate of political scandal and street protests are starting to wear down his inner circle a year and a half into his mandate.
    Sylvain Fort, who shaped Macron’s campaign messaging during his presidential campaign and penned some of the young leader’s most memorable speeches, will leave the Elysee palace for “personal reasons,” government ministers said.
    “After two years and a half of relentless work serving the candidate and later our president, I wish to pursue other professional and personal projects, and above all dedicate more time to my family,” Fort told French news agency AFP.
    His resignation follows the departure of Macron’s political adviser late last year to lead the ruling party’s European parliament election campaign.    Rumors are swirling in French media of other close advisers who may head out the door.
    Privately, aides say the pace of reforms, Macron’s own hyperactivity, his frequent foreign trips and a relentless news cycle are taking their toll on even the most committed of his loyalists.
    Fort, an opera buff and literature graduate from the elite ENS school, preferred the more reclusive role of chief speechwriter after Macron’s election victory in May 2017.
    Macron persuaded Fort to return to a front-line media relations role last summer after the violent conduct of Macron’s former bodyguard and the Elysee’s attempted cover-up of the matter sent his popularity into a nosedive and raised questions about decision-making inside the president’s office.
    Surrounded by a small coterie of close aides dubbed the “Macron boys,” the 41-year-old pushed through a series of reforms to liberalize the economy and cut taxes in his first 15 months in office.
    But popular perceptions of an arrogant president whose monarchical style leaves him detached from the daily realities of most French people triggered street unrest in late 2018.    The so-called “yellow vest” protests forced tax concessions and cast doubt over Macron’s ability to see through his reform agenda.
    He wants to adopt stricter rules for unemployment benefits, merge varying pension plans into a single system, and create a leaner public sector – all prickly subjects that could give a new lease of life to the “yellow vests.
    In his New Year message, Macron, whose popularity rating is at a record low, was unrepentant as he promised to press on.
    “In recent years, we’ve engaged in a blatant denial of reality,” he said.    “We can’t work less, earn more, cut taxes and increase spending.”
(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

1/3/2019 President Trump speaks on border crisis in WH press briefing room by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump highlights the need for more border security as the new Congress takes over.
    During a surprise press briefing Thursday, the president said he wants to get a lot done with bipartisan support now that Democrats control the House.
    He also introduced a number of border security and immigration officials that he had just met.
President Donald Trump speaks in the press briefing room at the
White House, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    The border officials said they support his calls for a physical barrier, as well as the government shutdown in order to get proper funding.
    President Trump also doubled down on previous comments, saying without a border wall, you cannot have border security.
    The president posted a video on Twitter, shortly after the 116th Congress convened on Capitol Hill.
    The video shows the ongoing crisis happening at the southern border as thousands of Central American migrants demand entry into the U.S.
    On Wednesday, the president suggested the government could remain closed for quite some time, since the Democrat proposal to reopen the government does not include border wall funding.

1/4/2018 Oil up $0.55 to $47.09, DOW down 660 to 22,686

1/4/2018 Dow plunges after Apple’s China warning - Stock falls 10 percent; Nasdaq in bear market by Adam Shell, USA TODAY
    The Dow took another big hit Thursday, closing down more than 600 points after Apple warned about slowing revenue and iPhone sales in China, and a key gauge of U.S. manufacturing in December came in weak, heightening investor concerns about slowing global growth.
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is coming off its worst year since 2008, closed down 660 points, or 2.8percent, to 22,686.    The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index closed 2.5 percent lower.    The technology- dominated Nasdaq declined 3 percent and fell back into bear market territory, defined as a drop of 20 percent or more from its recent high.
    After the stock market closed slightly higher Wednesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a letter to investors that the company – one of 30 stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average – expected revenue of $84 billion in the quarter ending Dec. 29.    Apple had anticipated revenue of between $89 billion and $93 billion for the quarter.
    The news had a bombshell effect on Apple’s stock, which plunged 10 percent to $142.08, as well as the broader U.S. stock market.
    Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives called it “Apple’s darkest day in the iPhone era,” adding “the magnitude of the miss with China demand ...was jaw-dropping.”
    Wall Street didn’t like the bad news.
    “Apple earnings warning rocks global shares,” Dean Popplewell, vice president of market analysis at currency trading firm OANDA, noted in a report.    Shares fell 1 percent in Europe and slipped 0.25 percent in Hong Kong.    The bulk of the losses were suffered by global tech companies that supply components to Apple for its iPhone.
    Apple’s sales warning and resulting share plunge, which wiped out more than $75 billion of its stock’s value, is the latest sign that tariffs and trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies are starting to weigh on broader economic growth as well as company-specific results.
    The tech company’s warning follows a similar message in December from package-delivery giant FedEx, which warned of a global slowdown as it slashed its global forecast for 2019.
    “(President Donald) Trump’s U.S protectionist confrontation is starting to have an impact on economic activity,” OANDA’s Popplewell said.
    Cook cited slowing growth in China, the world’s second-biggest economy, and negative fallout from the trade dispute between the U.S. and Beijing, as reasons for the iPhone sales slowdown.
    Market sentiment was also hurt Thursday by a drop in the ISM manufacturing index in December to 54.1, a level that was below expectations and signaled that business conditions in the U.S. are slowing.
    “The sharp fall ... echoes the deterioration in the other manufacturing surveys and suggests that the slowdown in global growth is starting to take a more serious toll on the U.S. factory sector,” said Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at U.K.-based Capital Economics.
    Apple’s stock drop marks a reversal of fortune for what once was America’s most valuable company.    On Aug. 2, 2018, powered by iPhone sales, Apple became the first publicly traded U.S. company to hit a market value of $1 trillion.    After its Thursday swoon, Apple’s market capitalization was below $700 billion.
    The popular stock’s big decline adds to the pain individual investors have suffered since the U.S. stock market’s December rout nearly pushed the S&P 500 and Dow into an official bear market.
    Apple’s stock is widely owned by investment funds, as well as workers ranging from teachers to electricians to lawyers.    With a roughly 3.5 percent weighting in the S& P 500 at the end of 2018, Apple is the second-biggest company behind Microsoft in the large company stock index, an investment most people own in their 401(k)s via index funds and other types of funds.
    Slowing earnings growth in 2019 was viewed as a key risk for the stock market heading into the year, and Apple’s lower forecast could exacerbate those fears.
    Recent stock market weakness, experts say, has been signaling slower profit growth going forward.
    “Economists and pundits that refused to listen to the market are now finally starting to come around to that realization,” Gary Kaltbaum, president of Kaltbaum Capital Management, told USA TODAY.
One analyst deemed Thursday “Apple’s darkest day in the iPhone era.” ROBERT DEUTSCH/USA TODAY

1/4/2019 Sanders: Pres. Trump not backing down from commitment to border security by OAN Newsroom
    White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says President Trump isn’t backing down from his calls for border security.
    Speaking to reporters Friday morning, she said the president has always been willing to negotiate, but won’t put national security at risk.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders walks off after speaking with reporters about
the government shutdown outside the White House, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    Sanders called the situation at the border a “humanitarian crisis,” and suggested the president has the support of the American people, because they want to feel safe.
    The press secretary went to say the White House is hopeful newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be willing to negotiate with President Trump.
    “The people that elected Nancy Pelosi didn’t elect her to come up here and do nothing and didn’t elect her to play political games,” said Sanders.    “They elected her to find real solutions and actually work with the president and work with all members of Congress to get things done.    So, we’re hopeful that she as Speaker will do that.”
    Negotiations on a spending bill have reached a deadlock over President Trump’s demand for border wall funding.

1/4/2019 Ill. Dem acknowledges compromise needed on border wall debate by OAN Newsroom
    At least one Democrat representative says she is willing to meet in the middle when it comes to a border wall.
    Speaking Friday, Illinois representative Cheri Bustos indicated Democrats may agree to a “partial border wall” — or some form of enhanced security — in order to reopen the government.
    Bustos said the wall has been talked about for so long it’s more of a symbol at this point.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., left, poses during a ceremonial swearing-in with Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., right,
on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019 in Washington during the opening session of the 116th Congress. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    She said if there is a partial wall, fencing or enhanced technology to keep the border safe, all of this “would be fine.”
    “What I’m saying is, we can have a starting point that we go in there and we say ‘this is ideally what we would like to see happen,'” said Bustos.    “But in the end we might have to give or take a little bit.    It’s just the way the world works.”
    Her comments are a step back from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has adamantly refused any wall funding.

1/4/2019 DHS forced to release 2K illegal aliens into U.S. due to crowded detention centers by OAN Newsroom
    The Department of Homeland Security is being forced to release thousands of detained illegal immigrant families into the U.S. due to overcrowded detention centers.
    According to DHS, 2,000 illegal immigrants arrested at the southern border have been released over the past few weeks.
A migrant jumps the border fence to get into the U.S. side to San Diego, Calif., from Tijuana, Mexico, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019.
Discouraged by the long wait to apply for asylum through official ports of entry, many migrants from recent caravans are
choosing to cross the U.S. border wall and hand themselves in to border patrol agents. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
    The department said there are major overcrowding issues at detention centers in Yuma, Arizona, San Diego, California, and El Paso, Texas, and there is simply not enough beds to accommodate large families.
    There is also the policy issue that prevents immigration officials from detaining families longer than three weeks.
    During a recent cabinet meeting with the president, DHS Secretary Kristjen Nielsen called on Congress to reform laws that allow illegal aliens to flood into the U.S.
Migrants run as tear gas is thrown by U.S. Border Protection officers to the Mexican side of the border fence after they
climbed the fence to get to San Diego, Calif., from Tijuana, Mexico, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
    Meanwhile, border patrol agents in San Diego said they’ve seen a dramatic increase in violence recently.
    According to data released by the agency, violence at the border has increased by 300% over last year.
    This up-tick in reported incidents is being blamed on the migrant caravans which has overwhelmed Tijuana and U.S. immigration officials.
    The new numbers come after agents were forced to deploy tear gas after a migrant caravan attempted to rush the border and began throwing rocks and bottles at agents.
    Agents said the fights are being organized, by political groups for the express purpose of provoking a confrontation.    They argue having a barrier not only protects national security, but it protects agents as well.

1/4/2019 U.S. says has yet to see credible version of Khashoggi’s killing from Saudis by Lesley Wroughton
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leaves after his news conference at the
State Department in Washington, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States does not believe the Saudi version of the October killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has “hit that threshold of credibility,” a senior State Department official said on Friday even as Saudi Arabia prosecutes suspects.
    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will emphasize the need for accountability and credibility in the investigation of Khashoggi’s death during a visit next week to the Middle East, including to Riyadh, the official said.
    “The Secretary has been very consistent in engagements with Saudis …to really push the two points of accountability and credibility, which is that the Saudis should have a credible narrative for what happened,” said the official, who briefed reporters on Pompeo’s trip.
    “I don’t think from our point of view that the narrative emerging from the Saudis or the legal process has yet hit that threshold of credibility and accountability,” the official said.
    Pompeo wants both the perpetrators and the planners of the killing to be identified by the Saudis and appropriate punishments are meted out, the official added.
    Khashoggi, a U.S.-based Washington Post journalist from Saudi Arabia who had become a critic of the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
    U.S. intelligence agencies believe the crown prince ordered an operation to kill Khashoggi, whose body was dismembered and removed from the building to a location still publicly unknown.    Top Turkish officials have also tied his death to the highest levels of Saudi leadership.
    Saudi officials have denied accusations that the prince ordered the murder.
    President Donald Trump, who has cultivated a close relationship with the crown prince, told Reuters last month he stood by the crown prince despite the CIA assessment and pleas from U.S. senators for Trump to condemn the kingdom’s de facto ruler.
    A Saudi court on Thursday held its first hearing on Khashoggi’s case in which Saudi Arabian prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects in the case.    The United Nations human rights office on Friday called the trial “not sufficient.”
    The State Department official said the United States was not “looking to get into the weeds” of the court case but would emphasize the need for a credible legal process.
    Pompeo will also visit Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait as part of his Jan. 8 to Jan. 15 trip, the State Department said in a statement.
    As part of his talks with Middle Eastern leaders, Pompeo will also discuss the war in Yemen as well as Iran, Syria and other regional issues, the department said.
(Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Susan Heavey; Editing by Mary Milliken and James Dalgleish)

1/4/2019 Regional bloc, sans Mexico, urges Venezuela’s Maduro not to take office
Chile's Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero, Canada's Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrew Leslie
and Brazil's Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo attend a meeting of the Lima Group to discuss Venezuela's situation and
the inauguration of President Nicolas Maduro's second term, in Lima, Peru January 4, 2019. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo
    LIMA (Reuters) – Mexico declined to join its regional peers on Friday in urging Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro not to take office this month, the first time it has not signed a declaration by the Lima Group bloc created to pressure Caracas to make democratic reforms.
    The remaining 13 members of the Lima Group, which include Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Peru, said they would not recognize Maduro’s new term because last year’s election was “illegitimate,” according to the joint statement they signed.
(Reporting by Mitra Taj and Reuters TV; Editing by Richard Chang)

1/4/2019 Democrat suggests House CMTE will investigate Pres. Trump by OAN Newsroom
    The Mueller investigation will likely last longer than expected, as a federal grand jury in D.C. extends its term for another six months.
FILE – In this June 21, 2017, file photo, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel
probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
    This comes as House Democrat Jerry Nadler said Friday, that the House will not wait for Robert Mueller to conclude his probe into the president, because “there is plenty for the judiciary committee to look into right now.”
    On Thursday, Nadler introduced legislation to protect Mueller from being fired by President Trump.
    The move is opposed by House Republicans who argue Mueller should be the one under investigation.

1/4/2019 Dems plan to introduce universal background check bill by OAN Newsroom
    House Democrats will reportedly introduce gun control legislation next week.
    Reports Friday, said Democrats are proposing a bill, requiring universal background checks for all gun purchases.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. stands in a hallway and speaks on the phone as
she arrives back at the Capitol building after meeting with President Donald Trump about border security in the
Situation Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    The bill calls for federal background checks on all sales, not just through licensed firearm dealers.
    Critics point out that such checks are not effective, pointing to past mass shootings in which the shooter was able to legally obtain guns with a background check, or use a legally owned firearm belonging to a relative.
    The bill is not expected to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

1/4/2019 Pres. Trump delivers Rose Garden address after meeting with congressional leaders by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump says he could bypass Congress and declare a national emergency to fund the border wall.
    He made the comments during a speech from the Rose Garden Friday.
    During that event, he also said an earlier meeting with congressional leadership was productive, and everyone expressed interest in reopening the government.
President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, after a meeting with Congressional leaders
on border security, as the government shutdown continues Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, as Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen,
Vice President Mike Pence, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of La., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., listen (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    The president said his negotiating team, including Vice President Pence, Jared Kushner and Kristjen Nielsen, will meet with staffers of congressional leaders to discuss the matter this weekend.
    Meantime, during his press conference, the president also reaffirmed his stance on $5.6 billion for a physical barrier.
    “Really, I want to thank a lot of the Border Patrol people and ICE people who came up yesterday.    They had a tremendous impact on, I think a lot of Democrats frankly, but a lot of people, because they were able to lay out exactly what the problem is and one of the problems described to me as an example, your ports of entry.    We’re going to agree with Chuck and Nancy and Steny and Dick Durbin was there.    We’re going to agree that we want to make the ports bigger, more powerful, able to handle more traffic have very very powerful drug equipment there.    So they make very good stuff.    Now we don’t have it because of budgets and other reasons” -President Trump.
    He also confirmed that he told Senator Schumer that he was willing to keep the government shutdown for months or even years, until Democrats approve his demands for the wall.
    When asked if he would consider scrapping $10,000 raises for his top officials he said he would look into it.
    Just moments later, Vice President Mike Pence told reporters he would turn down his raise while some federal employees are without pay.

1/5/2018 Oil up $0.87 to $47.96, DOW up 747 to 23,433

1/5/2018 Trump says he could use executive power to build wall
    President Donald Trump says he’s considered using executive authority to get a wall built on the southern border.    Trump told reporters Friday that he could officially declare a national emergency to build a border wall but wants to try to negotiate a border wall with Congress.
    Trump said: “I can do it if I want.    We can call a national emergency.    I may do it.”
    He said he thinks the standoff over the border wall, which has resulted in a partial government shutdown, is going to be over sooner than people think.
[If the Congress and Senate does not come to the senses of the need then he should do it.].

1/5/2018 Foreign diplomats urge Maduro to hand over power in Venezuela
    Diplomats from a dozen Latin American countries and Canada on Friday urged Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to abstain from being sworn in for a second term and cede power until new elections can be held, saying it is the only way to restore democracy in Venezuela.    The strong rebuke from the Lima Group urging Maduro to hand over power to the opposition-controlled National Assembly comes days before his Jan. 10 inauguration to a six-year term widely rejected as illegitimate.

1/5/2018 President hits back after call to impeach - Too early to discuss it, new panel leader says by David Jackson, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – A day after Democrats officially took over the House of Representatives – and one lawmaker profanely called for impeachment – President Donald Trump accused his newly empowered opponents of only wanting to remove him from office.
    “How do you impeach a president who has won perhaps the greatest election of all time, done nothing wrong (no Collusion with Russia, it was the Dems that Colluded), had the most successful first two years of any president, and is the most popular Republican in party history 93%?” Trump tweeted.    His tweet came the morning after a new Democratic member of Congress – Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan – told supporters regarding Trump: “We’re going to go in and impeach the mother-----.”
    New House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have played down talk of impeachment, saying any discussion of such action would have to depend on the facts.
    “I don’t really like that kind of language, but more to the point, I disagree with what she said,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, speaking on CNN.    “It is too early to talk about that intelligently.    We have to follow the facts.”
    During his morning tweet storm, Trump blamed Democratic election victories for recent losses in the stock market, but said “things will settle down.”

1/5/2019 Fund managers hoping for stock rally look to emerging markets by David Randall
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in
New York, U.S., December 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon/File Photo
    NEW YORK (Reuters) – After emerging market stocks led global equity markets lower in a brutal 2018, some U.S.-based fund managers are betting that the asset class may have the largest rebound in the new year.
    It may not look likely at the moment, given that an economic downturn in China prompted iPhone-maker Apple Inc to lower its quarterly revenue forecast on Wednesday for the first time in a decade.    Its shares slumped nearly 10 percent after Chief Executive Tim Cook blamed the U.S.-China trade war and “economic deceleration,” prompting broad selloffs around the world the following day.
    Yet fund managers from Westwood Holdings Group, GMO, T. Rowe Price and Causeway Capital Management are among those who are betting that emerging market stocks will post outsized gains in 2019.    They cite a combination of compelling valuations and a likely decline in the value of the dollar that will help accelerate economic growth.
    As China continues to bear the brunt of U.S. President Donald Trump’s focus on trade tariffs, fund managers are expecting that shares in countries like India, Thailand, Peru, and Brazil will outperform the China-dominated emerging market benchmark index.
    “We want to lean into the fear in the markets,” said Sebastien Page, head of asset allocation at T. Rowe Price.    He expects emerging markets will outperform in the year ahead as the Federal Reserve curtails its pace of interest rate hikes and the dollar subsides.
    “When you have a recovery in risk assets, those that have been undervalued can snap back the most,” he said.
    Emerging markets have been in a bear market since September, placing them already four months into the deep declines that rocked the U.S. equities market in December.    The average bear market in emerging markets has lasted 220 days and posted a decline of 32.4 percent, or about 7 percentage points more than the roughly 25 percent drop in the MSCI Emerging Market     Index since it hit near-record highs last January, according to data from Ned Davis Research.
    While emerging markets started the year with another roughly 1.7 percent loss over the first two trading sessions, fund managers say they are increasing their bets on stocks in countries that are among the most beaten-down, expecting they will have the largest rebound if and when a global bull market in equities resumes.
    “I’m actually a lot more positive than this time last year because there are tremendous opportunities to add to high-quality names in insurance and some banks,” said Patricia Perez-Coutts, portfolio manager of the Westwood Emerging Markets fund.
    She has been increasing her stakes in South Africa, Thailand and Peru, she said, with the largest positions in companies such as South African life insurance company Sanlam Ltd and Credicorp Ltd , Peru’s largest financial holding company.    Shares of Credicorp are up 8.8 percent over the last 12 months, while shares of Sanlam are down 3.9 percent over the same time.
    Perez-Coutts has been underweight China since the start of last year, though she is starting to wade back in by buying shares in gaming and e-commerce companies that have plunged.
    “Though China’s overall economy may not be growing as strongly as it did in the past, there are still areas of strong growth,” she said.
    Joe Gubler, a quantitative portfolio manager at Causeway Capital Management, says emerging markets remain a compelling opportunity with a forward price-to-earnings ratio of approximately 10 even after the recent declines in the U.S. market have pushed the forward price-to-earnings ratio of the S&P 500 to slightly below 15 for the first time in about 5 years.
    As a result, Gubler has been increasing his positions in small-cap companies in India, as well as energy companies that have sold off as the price of oil has tanked.    He has also been increasing his position in companies that could benefit if there is a breakthrough in global trade talks.
    “The market is not in a mood to give emerging market stocks much credit,” he said.    “If you look at the chart, the emerging market index is sitting at about the same place it was in 2009."
    “If you had a let-up in trade and interest rates, you could see a decent-sized rally.”
(Reporting by David Randall; Editing by Dan Grebler)

1/5/2019 Trump says China woes help U.S. in trade talks, downplays Apple warning by Jeff Mason and Michael Martina
U.S. and Chinese flags are seen before Defense Secretary James Mattis welcomes Chinese Minister of
National Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
    WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Friday downplayed a revenue warning from Apple Inc that cited slowing sales in China and said China’s weakening economic growth puts the United States in a strong position as negotiators from the world’s two largest economies prepare for trade talks next week.
    Trump has slapped import tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods as he seeks concessions from Beijing on issues ranging from industrial subsidies to hacking, sparking retaliation by China.    The measures have disrupted trade, hurt manufacturing, roiled international markets and slowed the global economy.
    U.S. officials are heading to Beijing next week for the first face-to-face talks since Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping in December agreed to a 90-day truce in the trade war as they sought to strike a deal.
    “I think we will make a deal with China,” Trump told reporters at the White House after a meeting with Democratic and Republican lawmakers about the U.S. government shutdown.    “I really think they want to.    I think they sort of have to.”
    Beijing on Friday cut bank reserve requirements for a fifth time this year amid slowing growth at home and the punishing U.S. tariffs on exports.
    “China’s not doing well now.    And it puts us in a very strong position.    We are doing very well,” Trump said.    “I hope we’re going to make a deal with China.    And if we don’t, they’re paying us tens of billions of dollars worth of tariffs — not the worst thing in the world.”
    Official data this week showed manufacturing has slowed in both China and the United States, though the U.S. Labor Department on Friday reported a surge in new jobs in December along with higher wages.
    The president downplayed the effects of the economic woes on U.S. technology giant Apple Inc , which this week blamed slowing iPhone sales in China for a rare reduction in its quarterly sales forecast.
    When asked if he was concerned about Apple’s revenue cut and share price drop, Trump said: “No, I’m not.    I mean look, they’ve gone up a lot.”
    Shares of Apple rebounded on Friday after a 10 percent nosedive on Thursday on the revenue warning.    The shares closed at $148.26 on Friday, down about 5.1 percent for the week.    For the 2018 full year, Apple shares fell 7 percent, though they are up about 24 percent since Trump took office in January 2017.
    “They’re going to be fine.    Apple is a great company,” Trump said, adding he had told Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook to build his company’s products at home in the United States, something he has harped on previously.
    “Apple makes its product in China.    China is the biggest beneficiary of Apple, more than us, because they build their product mostly in China,” Trump said.    “I want Apple to make their iPhones and all of the great things that they make in the United States.    And that’ll take place.”
    Apple’s lowered revenue outlook along with a double-digit drop in earnings at commodities giant Cargill Inc [CARG.UL] on Thursday may be among the clearest warning signs yet that the trade war’s effects have begun to hit U.S. companies.
    A team led by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish will travel to China for talks, China’s commerce ministry and USTR said. That news that helped boost global markets.    The talks begin on Monday.
    USTR said the U.S. delegation would also include under secretaries from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Treasury, as well as senior officials from those agencies and the White House.
    While Trump and other officials have said talks between the two sides are progressing well, they have given few details on concessions that China has made.    Some U.S. demands would require structural reform that may be unpalatable for Chinese leaders.
    China would deepen reform but will not yield on issues it deems to be its core national interests, a commentary in the ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper said on Wednesday.
    “We know what sort of changes we need,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said in an interview with Fox Business on Friday.    “Now, the question is can we negotiate these changes and can we do so with enforcement (and) with timetables.”
(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Michael Martina; Additional reporting by Judy Hua in Beijing, Tim Ahmann in Washington and Chris Prentice in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler)

1/5/2019 Democrat congresswoman hurls expletive aimed at Pres. Trump by OAN Newsroom
Newly-confirmed congresswoman Rashida Tlaib curses the president during a speech, just hours after being sworn in.
    Ttlaib made the comment during a rally in D.C. Thursday night.
    She also published an op-ed on the same day, calling for President Trump’s impeachment.
    In the video she can be seen riling up supporters while hurling expletives at the president.
    Mark Dice tweet: “Foul-mouthed Muslim Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib from Michigan: 'We're going to impeach the mother f#cker" Trump, she told her child. Great mother'.”
    Tlaib was one of a dozen protestors that were thrown out of a rally for making similar comments against then-candidate Trump in 2016.
[Rashida Harbi Tlaib is an American politician and attorney.    She is a Democratic former member of the Michigan House of Representatives.    She is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) a left-wing organization of democratic socialist, social democratic and labor-oriented members in the United States.    The DSA is not only by far the largest socialist organization in the United States in the 21st century, it is also the largest socialist organization in the United States in over a century.    By the end of 2017, membership in the organization had risen to 32,000, primarily because of the influx of youth in reaction to the presidency of Donald Trump.].

1/5/2019 Yellow vest protests enter 8th week by OAN Newsroom
    Thousands of ‘yellow vest’ protesters take to the streets of France, as the demonstrations enter the 8th consecutive week.
    International reports Saturday said protesters called for the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron, as Macron’s popularity reportedly hits an all-time low.
Demonstrators wearing their yellow vests brandish a French flag during a demonstration
in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018. The yellow vest movement held several peaceful demonstrations in cities
and towns around France, including about 1,500 people who marched through Marseille. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
    Recent counts said the number of protesters has dwindled over the weeks, but organizers said, with the holidays out of the way, more people will be energized to get out again.
    Demonstrations started over planned fuel hikes, but expanded into complaints over Macron’s broader public policies.
    The French government Friday took a hard stance against the protests, accusing demonstrators of being “agitators” who want to overthrow the government.
    Macron has promised a three month debate on proposed reforms, including overhauling the civil service.

1/5/2019 Clashes erupt in Paris as ‘yellow vests’ protest at unrepentant Macron by Richard Lough and Elizabeth Pineau
Riot policemen run near a fire during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement
at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
(Note: Expletive in seventh paragraph quote)
    PARIS (Reuters) – Rioters in Paris torched motorbikes and set barricades ablaze on the upmarket Boulevard Saint Germain> on Saturday, as protests against high living costs and the perceived indifference of President Emmanuel Macron turned violent on the fringes.
    The latest “yellow vest” marches began peacefully but degenerated in the afternoon as protesters threw missiles at riot police blocking bridges over the Seine.
    Officers fired tear gas to prevent protesters crossing the river and reaching the National Assembly.    One riverboat restaurant was set ablaze and a policeman was wounded when he was hit by a bicycle hurled from a street above the river bank.
    Two months after they started blocking roads, occupying highway tollbooths and staging sometimes-violent street protests in Paris, the yellow vests wanted to inject new momentum into a movement that weakened over the holidays.
    Macron’s government, shaken by the unrest, had this week hardened its stance, branding the protesters agitators seeking to overthrow the government.
    Driving the unrest is anger, particularly among low-paid workers, over a squeeze on household incomes, and a belief that Macron is deaf to citizens’ needs as he enacts reforms seen as favoring the wealthy.
    “They have no right to leave us in the shit like this,” said protester Francois Cordier.    “We’re fed up with having to pay out the whole time, we’ve had enough of this slavery, we should be able to live on our salaries.”
    Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux escaped from his office through a back door after a small number of protesters broke into the compound and smashed up vehicles.
    Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said about 50,000 people had protested in cities nationwide, including Bordeaux, Toulouse, Rouen and Marseille.
    The turnout was higher than last week but a small fraction of the numbers seen in the first weeks of the protests.
    As darkness fell, officers dispersed scores of yellow vests gathered on Paris’s Avenue des Champs-Elysees.
    Television images showed hooded youths setting a car alight on a side street, but there was no repeat of the scenes in November when shops were looted, banks vandalized and the Arc de Triomphe was defaced.
    Authorities have blamed the worst of the violence in recent weeks on anarchists, anti-capitalists and extreme groups on the fringes of the yellow vest movement.
    The protests come 18 months into Macron’s tenure and his drive to reshape the economy, and have already forced him into concessions.
    Last month, Macron promised tax cuts for pensioners, wage rises for the poorest workers and the scrapping of planned fuel tax increases, at a cost to the Treasury of 10 billion euros ($11 billion).
    It was the first big U-turn for a president elected 18 months earlier on a platform to break with traditional French politics and liberalize the heavily regulated economy.
    In a New Year’s Eve address, Macron vowed to press on with his reform agenda, saying: “We can’t work less, earn more, cut taxes and increase spending.”
    Faced with record low popularity ratings, Macron is expected soon to set out his plans for the coming months.    These include a nationwide debate on ecological, fiscal and institutional questions, the results of which he says will feed into policy.
($1 = 0.8777 euros)
(Reporting by Richard Lough, Elizabeth Pineau and Johnny Cotton; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by David Evans and David Holmes)
Clashes erupt in Paris as ‘yellow vests’ protest at unrepentant Macron

1/5/2019 Pres. Trump on shutdown: i’m in the WH ready to go, where are the Dems? by OAN Newsroom
    The president takes aim at Democrats once again for refusing to negotiate on border security to reopen the government.
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House after meeting
with lawmakers about border security, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    In a tweet Saturday the president said he “wants to stop the shutdown,” just as soon as Democrats agree to strengthen border security.
    He also added he “didn’t care” most workers not getting paid are Democrats, saying “I’m in the White House ready to go, where are the Dems?
    Trump tweet: “I don’t care that most of the workers not getting paid are Democrats, I want to stop the Shutdown as soon as we are in agreement on Strong Border Security! I am in the White House ready to go, where are the Dems?
    But while some federal workers will get backpay once the shutdown is over, federal contractors said they’re not getting any money.
    “I’m not allowed to work and I will not get back pay.    I’m forced to use only vacation time and then I’m put on leave without pay,” said Federal Contractor, Chris Erickson.    “Where I just have to wait till things open back up and use up our savings or whatever else we have to do to keep things moving along.”
    Democrats attempted to float a funding package to reopen the government, that did not include funding for the wall.
    But the president has said he will not sign off on any proposal that does not fund border security.

1/5/2019 WH staff gathers at Camp David for retreat by OAN Newsroom
    Senior White House staff officials will be gathering at the Camp David presidential compound for a “staff retreat” to discuss the administration’s priorities for 2019.
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House
after meeting with lawmakers about border security, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Washington, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen
and Vice President Mike Pence listen. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    According to Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney planned the meeting, which President Trump will join on Sunday.
    The group will also discuss the ongoing government shutdown.

1/5/2019 Pres. Trump: big human trafficking problem at the southern border by OAN Newsroom
    As the shutdown fight continues over the border, the president is highlighting the potential dangers of illegal migration.
    In a series of tweets Saturday, the president said the administration is working on border security, but added “we need a wall.”
The border fence between San Diego, Calif., and Tijuana, is reflected on a puddle of sea water as seen from Mexico,
Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Discouraged by the long wait to apply for asylum through official ports of entry, many migrants from
recent caravans are choosing to cross the U.S. border wall and hand themselves in to border patrol agents. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
    He added Democrats are asking for billions in foreign aid, but said “they don’t want to spend a fraction of that amount on securing the border.”
    The president also touched on border crime, saying “in 2018, 1.7 pounds of narcotics has been seized” at the border.
    He said there was a “big human trafficking problem” adding “17,000 adults with criminal records were apprehended, including 6,000 thousand gang members, including MS-13.”
    Meantime, authorities in Tijuana begin evicting migrants from a shelter that’s being closed for sanitary purposes.
    Federal police stood by Friday, to ensure the 100 odd migrants living in the shelter were moving out.
    Health officials said the industrial site was overcrowded and lacked the proper facilities for a healthy living space.
    They are offering to house the migrants in a former concert venue, but many of them are not happy because its farther away from the U.S. border.
    Many migrants have claimed the cramped and unsanitary living conditions in Tijuana are the reason they would rather jump the border illegally than wait for asylum.
    Trump tweet: “We are working hard at the Border, but we need a WALL! In 2018, 1.7 million pounds of narcotics seized, 17,000 adults arrested with criminal records, and 6000 gang members, including MS-13, apprehended. A big Human Trafficking problem.”

1/5/2019 Brazil military uneasy with Bolsonaro’s openness to U.S. base: source by Rodrigo Viga Gaier
FILE PHOTO: Brazil's new President Jair Bolsonaro gestures after receiving the presidential sash from outgoing
President Michel Temer at the Planalto Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil January 1, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes/File Photo
    RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Comments from Brazil’s new right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro that he would be open to the United States operating a military base on Brazilian soil have not been well received by the country’s armed forces, a senior army officer told Reuters on Saturday.
    Bolsonaro, who took office on Jan. 1, said in a television interview on Thursday he might be willing to allow a U.S. base in Brazil as a way to counter Russian influence in Venezuela, a move that would mark a sharp shift in direction for Brazilian foreign policy.
    Brazil’s military would be against a U.S. base in the country, the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he has not been authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
    He added that the possibility of ceding territory for a base took officers by surprise in the Brazilian military, which has traditionally been a zealous guardian of national sovereignty.
    The Ministry of Defense said on Saturday it has not been informed of such a proposal by Bolsonaro, a former Army officer turned politician who has appointed retired generals to his cabinet.
    “The president has not discussed this with the defense minister,” said Major Sylvia Martins, a spokeswoman for the ministry.
    Bolsonaro, an admirer of U.S. President Donald Trump, has quickly moved to align Brazil more closely with the Trump administration, which was represented by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at his swearing in on Tuesday.
    Pompeo told reporters on Wednesday that the United States and Brazil had “an opportunity to work alongside each other against authoritarian regimes” in the region, naming Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
    Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo confirmed Bolsonaro’s willingness to allow a U.S. base in comments to reporters in Lima on Friday during a meeting of the Lima Group of 13 countries monitoring Venezuela’s political and economic crisis.
    Araújo said Bolsonaro would discuss the base offer with Trump during an expected visit to Washington in March, the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper reported.
    The Lima Group of Latin American nations plus Canada said on Friday that last year’s elections in Venezuela were not democratic and they would not recognize the legitimacy of leftist President Nicolas Maduro’s new term starting Jan. 10.
    Bolsonaro said in the television interview that he is worried about Russia’s closeness with Maduro, the most significant U.S. foe in Latin America.
    A visit to Venezuela by two Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers in December angered the U.S. government.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Viga; Gaier in Rio de Janeiro and Anthony Boadle in Brasilia; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

1/5/2019 Kansas Secy of State Kris Kobach touts wall GoFundMe page by OAN Newsroom
In this Wednesday, May 17, 2017 photo, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach talks
with a reporter in his office in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
    The GoFundMe page made in support of President Trump’s proposed border wall is garnering attention from a high-profile figure.
    In an op-ed on Breitbart News on Saturday, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach praised the success of the campaign.    He also noted the crowd-funding effort has raised an astronomical $19 million.
    It’s on pace to become the most successful GoFundMe campaign ever, coming close to passing-up the current record-holder — the “Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund” made for for victims of sexual assault.
    Kobach also said the page for the legal defense fund has been up far longer than the page for the wall, which is expected to take the top spot in the coming days.

1/6/2019 New Venezuela congress chief says Maduro will be usurper president by Deisy Buitrago and Corina Pons
Juan Guaido, lawmaker of the Venezuelan opposition party Popular Will (Partido Voluntad Popular)
and the new President of the National Constituent Assembly, addresses the audience at
congress in Caracas, Venezuela January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero
    CARACAS (Reuters) – The newly elected chief of Venezuela’s opposition-run Congress on Saturday said President Nicolas Maduro will be “usurping the presidency” when he swears in for a second term on Jan. 10 after winning a much criticized and broadly boycotted 2018 election.
    Legislator Juan Guaido of the hard-line opposition party Popular Will, who was elected to head the legislature on Saturday, said he would confront the “dictatorship” and seek fair elections, without offering details.
    His statements add to criticism by governments around the world that have accused Maduro of undermining democracy and mismanaging the economy.    But the largely powerless congress has few concrete means of stopping the inauguration or easing Maduro’s grip on power.
    “Maduro from January 10 will be usurping the presidency of the Republic,” said Guaido, a 35-year-old industrial engineer, in his first speech.    “This National Assembly, as the only legitimate power elected by Venezuelans, assumes the representation of the people.”
    Venezuela’s annual inflation now tops 1 million percent and basic food and medicine are out of the reach of most citizens, spurring an exodus of some 3 million people since 2015, according to the United Nations.
    Maduro says the country is the victim of an “economic war” by opposition leaders with the help of Washington, which has levied several rounds of sanctions against his government and top officials.
    He won a second term in 2018, but the vote was broadly boycotted by the opposition on the grounds that it was rigged in his favor.
    The ruling Socialist Party with the help of the country’s top court has turned the Congress into a mostly symbolic entity, replacing its day-to-day functions with an all-powerful body called the Constituent Assembly.
    Guaido on Saturday vowed “not to give up” while demanding justice for dozens of imprisoned or exiled political leaders, including some of his fellow legislators.    He blamed the government for creating a “miserable” life for Venezuelans.
    A group of Latin American countries on Friday called on Maduro not to take office on Jan. 10, but Mexico – which has warmed to Venezuela after the election of a leftist government – urged the group not to meddle in Venezuelan affairs.
(Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Susan Thomas)

1/6/2019 Britons would now vote to stay in EU, want second referendum: poll
FILE PHOTO: Anti-Brexit protestors gather outside Downing Street, on Whitehall
in central London, Britain January 2, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
    LONDON (Reuters) – More Britons want to remain a member of the European Union than leave, according to a survey published on Sunday which also showed voters want to make the final decision themselves.
    Britain is due leave the EU on March 29, but Prime Minister Theresa May is struggling to get her exit deal approved by parliament, opening up huge uncertainty over whether a deal is possible, or even whether the country will leave at all.
    The survey by polling firm YouGov showed that if a referendum were held immediately, 46 percent would vote to remain, 39 percent would vote to leave, and the rest either did not know, would not vote, or refused to answer the question.
    When the undecided and those who refused to answer were removed from the sample, the split was 54-46 in favor of remaining.
    That is broadly in line with other polls in recent months which show a deeply divided electorate, in which opinion has swung towards remaining in the EU.    The 2016 referendum voted 52 to 48 percent in favor of leaving.
    The poll of more than 25,000 voters was commissioned by the People’s Vote campaign, which is spearheading an increasingly vocal push for a second referendum on Brexit.
    On Sunday, May reiterated her opposition to holding a second referendum, saying it would be divisive and disrespectful to those who voted to leave in the initial vote, and also highlighted a lack of time available to hold a new referendum.
    But, the survey showed 41 percent thought the final decision about Brexit should be made by a new public vote versus 36 percent who believe it should be up to parliament.    Removing those who are undecided, the split was 53 percent in favor of another referendum and 47 percent against.
    Lawmakers are due to vote on whether to accept May’s exit deal in the week beginning Jan. 14.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Alison Williams)

1/6/2019 WikiLeaks tells reporters 140 things not to say about Julian Assange
FILE PHOTO - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the
Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
    LONDON (Reuters) – WikiLeaks on Sunday advised journalists not to report 140 different “false and defamatory” statements about its founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since June 2012.
    It was not immediately clear what prompted the advice to media organizations, but WikiLeaks singled out Britain’s Guardian newspaper for publishing what it said was a false report about Assange.    The Guardian did not immediately respond late on Sunday to a Reuters request for comment.
    The Australian set up WikiLeaks as a channel for publishing confidential information from anonymous sources.    He is a hero to some for exposing what supporters cast as government abuse of power and for championing free speech, but to others he is a rebel who has undermined the security of the United States.
    WikiLeaks angered Washington by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables that laid bare often highly critical U.S. appraisals of world leaders from Russian President Vladimir Putin to members of the Saudi royal family.
    “There is a pervasive climate of inaccurate claims about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, including purposeful fabrications planted in large and otherwise ‘reputable’ media outlets,” Wikileaks said an email sent to media organizations and marked “Confidential legal communication.    Not for publication.”
    “Consequently journalists and publishers have a clear responsibility to carefully fact-check from primary sources and to consult the following list to ensure they are not spreading, and have not spread, defamatory falsehoods about WikiLeaks or Julian Assange.”
        WikiLeaks did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
    The 5,000-word email included 140 statements that WikiLeaks said were false and defamatory, such as the assertion that Assange had ever been an “agent or officer of any intelligence service.”
    WikiLeaks also said it was false and defamatory to suggest that Assange, 47, had ever been employed by the Russian government or that he is, or has ever been, close to the Russian state, the Kremlin or Putin.
    Other items listed as false and defamatory included more personal claims including that Assange bleaches his hair, that he is a hacker, that he has ever neglected an animal or that he has poor personal hygiene.
    Assange made international headlines in early 2010 when WikiLeaks published a classified U.S. military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters that killed a dozen people in Baghdad, including two Reuters news staff.
    Later that year, the group released over 90,000 secret documents detailing the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan, followed by almost 400,000 internal U.S. military reports detailing operations in Iraq.
    More than 250,000 classified cables from U.S. embassies followed, then almost 3 million dating back to 1973.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

1/6/2019 KY. Democrat congressman breaks with party on southern border wall by OAN Newsroom
    A democrat congressman breaks with his party regarding building a southern border wall.
    In a recent interview on Hill TV, Representative John Yarmuth said democrats were “willing” to come to the table to discuss funding for border security.
    Yarmuth referenced the 2017 Omnibus spending bill, where the issue of DACA recipients would have been addressed.
    This comes amid negotiations between the Trump Administration and congress, where democrat leaders say they’re still not planning to budge when it comes to border wall funding.
    In his interview, the representative called the concrete wall plan first proposed by President Trump “semantics,” and mentions his party was ready to spend $25-billion on border security just over a year ago.
    The pundit went on to discuss his talks with several top border patrol and ICE officials, saying all of them unequivocally agreed a wall is necessary and effective, which he agreed with.
    It’s still unclear how long the government will remain shut down as negotiations toward a compromise continue.
[The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, also known as the 2017 omnibus spending bill, is a United States appropriations legislation passed during the 115th Congress.    It provides spending permission to several federal agencies for fiscal year 2017, and it authorizes $1.1 trillion in spending.].

1/6/2019 POLL: Socialism popular among democrats by OAN Newsroom
    A new poll suggests socialism is becoming normalized within the democrat party.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders addresses supporters at a “Medicare for All” rally on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018,
in Columbia, S.C. Sanders hasn’t announced intentions for another bid in 2020. But in the run-up to the
Nov. 6 election, he’s visiting more than half a dozen states to stump with congressional candidates. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard).
    A Gallup poll released on Sunday shows 57-percent of democrat respondents view socialism positively.
    For comparison, 16-percent of republicans polled had a positive outlook on socialism.
    In the same poll, young Americans are more-likely to favor the political ideology than those who are older.
    Many analysts predict this perspective was best explained by Senator Bernie Sanders’ (D-VT.) surge in the 2016 election, acknowledging he was a progressive candidate with popular support among many young voters.

1/7/2019 Former Venezuela Supreme Court judge flees to U.S., denounces Maduro by Brian Ellsworth
FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro pauses as he speaks during a
news conference at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela December 12, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello
    CARACAS (Reuters) – Former Venezuelan Supreme Court Justice Christian Zerpa has fled to the United States to protest President Nicolas Maduro’s second term that will begin with his inauguration this week, the onetime Maduro backer told a Miami broadcaster on Sunday.
    The latest defection from the crisis-stricken OPEC nation’s government comes amid growing international pressure on Maduro over his new term, which resulted from a broadly boycotted 2018 vote dismissed by countries around the world as a sham.
    “I’ve decided to leave Venezuela to disavow the government of Nicolas Maduro,” Zerpa said in an interview with EVTV, which is broadcast over cable and the internet.
    “I believe (Maduro) does not deserve a second chance because the election he supposedly won was not free and competitive.”
    The Supreme Court confirmed in a statement that he had fled, referring to him as a former magistrate and adding it opened an investigation of him in November over accusations of sexual harassment by women in his office.    The court’s leadership recommended that he be dismissed over the allegations, it said, without providing details.
    Zerpa was for years a crucial ally of Maduro on the Supreme Court, which has backed the ruling Socialist Party in every major legal dispute since Maduro’s 2013 election.
    He wrote a 2016 ruling that provided the legal justification for Maduro’s government to strip congress of most of its powers after the Socialist Party lost control of the body to the opposition in a landslide election.
    Zerpa in the interview described the Supreme Court as “an appendage of the executive branch,” and said that justices were at times summoned to the presidential palace to receive instructions on how to rule on certain sensitive cases.
    The Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
    Zerpa said he did not criticize Maduro’s May 2018 election to make sure he could pave the way for a safe exit from the country in the company of his family.
    Opposition leaders have urged foreign governments not to recognize Maduro after his inauguration on Thursday, and a group of Latin American nations on Friday called on Maduro not to take office.
    But diplomats consulted by Reuters said few countries were likely to shutter embassies or sever ties with Venezuela.
    Zerpa’s words echoed those of former Justice Eladio Aponte, who fled to the United States in 2012 and said the government of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez – Maduro’s predecessor – systematically manipulated court affairs.

1/7/2019 Government shutdown enters day 17 as border negotiations stall by OAN Newsroom
The Capitol is seen as the partial government shutdown lurches into a third week with President Donald Trump standing firm
in his border wall funding demands, in Washington, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. After no weekend breakthrough to end a prolonged shutdown,
newly empowered House Democrats are planning to step up pressure on Trump and Republican lawmakers to reopen the government. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    It is now day 17 of the partial government shutdown as lawmakers say negotiations over the border have hit a snag.
    Vice President Mike Pence and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen held back-to-back meetings with congressional members over the weekend as White House staff reportedly met at Camp David to continue negotiations to fund the border.
    President Trump said talks were “productive,” but ultimately there was no consensus.
    Democrats have been focused on passing several appropriations bills to reopen the government, while skirting around border security.
    This year’s shutdown is now the second longest in U.S. history just behind the 21-day shutdown under Bill Clinton.
    Meanwhile, both chambers of Congress are not expected to convene until Tuesday.

1/7/2019 Rep. Ocasio-Cortez on compromise with Republicans by OAN Newsroom
    Representative Alexandria Oasio-Cortez is detailing her perspective when it comes to working with Republicans.
    During an interview on CBS that aired Sunday, the New York lawmaker said she’s willing to compromise with Republicans on certain issues.    However, she also said in the past the Democrat Party has compromised on some issues they shouldn’t have.
    Ocasio-Cortez said she and her constituents feel like the Democrat Party has abandoned its principles when it comes to some of its core values.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks with reporters after participating in a town hall
with Kerri Evelyn Harris in Delaware. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
    “I think we’ve compromised things that we shouldn’t have compromised, whether it’s judgeships with Mitch McConnell, whether it’s compromising on climate change,” she explained.    “I think that there are some things that we’ve compromised a little too much on, but am I open to compromise on certain ways to get things done — absolutely.”
    The interview foreshadows how the New York lawmaker will likely act in Congress.
    In the same interview, she explained her push for a so-called “green new deal,” suggesting raising taxes up to 70-percent in order to get it done.
[Another Progressive Socialist liberal who wants to take the U.S. back to the 8 years of economic doom during the Obama administration, and now I know what a dreamer is.].

1/7/2019 President Trump to give prime time address on border security Tuesday night by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump is set to give his first ever prime time address from the Oval Office amid the partial government shutdown.
.     On Twitter Monday, the president confirmed he will outline — what he calls — the “humanitarian and national security crisis” on the southern border, during a speech Tuesday night.
    Trump tweet: “I am pleased to inform you that I will Address the Nation on the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border. Tuesday night at 9:00 P.M. Eastern.”
    Last week the president told reporters he is considering declaring a national emergency to fund a border wall.
    One America News will have full and commercial free coverage of the president’s address Tuesday night starting at 9PM Eastern Time and 6PM Pacific Time.
President Donald Trump turns to depart after speaking on the South Lawn of the White House as he walks
from Marine One, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Washington. Trump returned from a trip to Camp David. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

1/7/2019 Police release new details on Tijuana cartel attack that killed officer by OAN Newsroom
    Violence is continuing to plague the city of Tijuana, where multiple police officers were recently shot by one of Mexico’s biggest cartels.
    A squad full of cartel hitmen drove into a Chinese restaurant last Thursday, where they opened fire on local officers who were having dinner there.    The hitmen are reportedly members of the Jalisco Nueva Generacion Cartel, which is one of the up-and-coming drug trafficking groups in recent years.    It was first founded in 2009 in the state of Jalisco, Mexico.
    According to Tijuana’s Secretary of Public Security Marco Antonio Sotomayor, the hitmen men were carrying AK-47’s to strike their targets.
Mexican Federal Police walk outside an empty warehouse used as a shelter set up for migrants
in downtown Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
    “We know which collective group it is and we have the names of the individuals of who control that group and the ones who are responsible of this cowardly homicide, but we can say it’s the Cartel de Jalisco, though we would like to not reveal the names of those individuals who we believe are responsible — as of now, we will work behind the scenes to bring them into justice,” said Sotomayor.
    The incident left one of the officers dead, another officer wounded, and an employee at the local dining place was also wounded.    The dead officer has been identified as Fidencio Figueroa Rodriguez, and the wounded officer is Omar Araujo.    The wounded restaurant employee’s name has not yet been publicized, though he is expected to have a safe recovery after being struck on his arm during the attack.
    The attack specifically took place in the colony of Sanchez Toboada, which is an area in Tijuana where the Jalisco Nueva Generacion Cartel has control and which has experienced a spike in homicides.
    “We are going to do everything possible to punish these suspects, but to be honest, we do need help — the municipal police is already putting in loads of effort to bring security to the city,” stated Maria Martinez, Director of the Tijuana Municipal Police. “Our constitution says that the the federation, the state and the municipal has the obligation to grant full security to its people.”
    An astonishing 2,500 murders happened in Tijuana in 2018, which is a record breaking high in a city which was already one of the most dangerous in the world.

1/7/2019 Brazil gang attacks challenge Bolsonaro’s security strategy by Leonardo Benassatto
A person removes a piece from a burned-out truck which was transporting
chickens in Fortaleza, Brazil January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker
    FORTALEZA, Brazil (Reuters) – Criminal gangs on a rampage in northeast Brazil are posing an early security test for new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, highlighting the challenge he faces in quelling drug-related violence and halting a record wave of murders in the country.
    The state of Ceará has been rocked by five nights of attacks including a bomb that exploded under a highway, torched buses and assaults against banks and police barracks.
    Security officials believe the attacks were triggered by the new state government’s plan to undercut the power of gangs by sending prisoners to whatever jails have space to take them in, ending a longstanding practice of separating them according to gang affiliation.
    The attacks, which prompted Brazil’s new Justice Minister Sergio Moro to dispatch 406 federal security agents to Ceará, followed the Jan. 1 inauguration of Bolsonaro, who has made no secret of his admiration for the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964-1985.
    The former army captain – who ran on a law-and-order platform – won support from Brazilians tired of the warring drug gangs that have come to terrorize large swaths of the country.
    His task now is to make good on promises to design a coherent federal security strategy and end the wave of violence that saddled Latin America’s largest nation with a record 63,880 murders in 2017.    The murder tally last year is still unknown.
    In Ceará’s state capital Fortaleza, residents returned to the streets on Monday, making their way to work warily.
    “The situation is tense,” said taxi driver Weverton Barbosa.    “We’re scared, because we don’t know what’s coming, and it could get worse.”
    Ceará’s public security and defense ministry said on Monday 148 people had been arrested for their alleged role in the attacks.    In a statement on Sunday, it said at least three suspected gang members had been killed in gun battles with police.
    Speaking last Friday, Bolsonaro, 63, praised Moro for quickly sending federal forces into Ceará to try and ease the situation.
    But despite promising a tough stance on gangs, which profit from drug trafficking and often carry out mass attacks to spread fear and in response to police crackdowns in prisons or on the streets, Bolsonaro has provided few specific details about how he will bring them to heel.
    At a press conference after his election, Bolsonaro urged prosecutors to follow the money to hobble prison gangs, such as Sao Paulo’s powerful First Capital Command and Rio de Janeiro’s Red Command.
    “Let’s fight organized crime and work to stop inmates from continuing to control their foot-soldiers from within prisons,” Bolsonaro tweeted on in October, shortly after his first-round election victory.
    On Friday, Bolsonaro asked lawmakers to quickly pass a bill to provide police and soldiers freedom from prosecution when on active duty, warning that sky-high violence would only slow if laws were passed to give security officials a free hand as they combat gang violence.
    Last week, after being sworn in as justice minister, Moro said he would present an anti-crime bill within weeks, pledging to isolate the jailed leaders of drug gangs, which he called a threat to democracy.
    Brazil’s constitution mandates that public security is managed by state governments, and Bolsonaro may be limited in what he can achieve to restore calm from the federal level.
    Ignacio Cano, a security expert at the Rio de Janeiro State University, said that given the high levels of violence in the northeast of the country, and the inability of state governments to cope with it, federal interventions such as the one in Ceará may become more prevalent under Bolsonaro.
    “I think this mechanism is something they will end up using a lot more than they expect,” he said.
    He added that gang crime posed a new challenge for Moro, who made his name as a crusading anti-graft judge, jailing scores of Brazil’s corrupt political and business elite as part of the country’s notorious “Car Wash” probe.
    “Moro’s experience is in investigating white-collar crime, and now he will have to face a new, more violent type of criminal,” he said.
(Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Tom Brown)

1/7/2019 France to toughen sanctions on undeclared protests, PM says
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe leaves following the weekly cabinet meeting at the
Elysee Palace in Paris, France, December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo
    PARIS (Reuters) – France plans to introduce legislation to toughen sanctions on undeclared protests in response to violent “yellow-vest” demonstrations, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Monday in a hardening of the government’s stance on the unrest.
    He spoke after rioters torched motorbikes and set barricades ablaze on Paris’s upmarket Boulevard Saint-Germain on Saturday, underscoring how protests against high living costs and President Emmanuel Macron have turned violent on the fringes.
    “We need to preserve the right to demonstrate in France and we must sanction those who break the law,” Philippe told TF1 television.
    “That’s why the government favors updating the law in order to sanction those who do not respect this obligation to declare protests, those who take part in undeclared protests, those who arrive at protests with balaclavas,” Philippe said.
    He said the government could model the new law on existing legislation against football hooligans whereby individuals can be banned from stadiums.    It could be introduced as soon as February, he said.
    Philippe also said the “casseurs,” or thugs, who have brought disruption and destruction to Paris and other major cities where shops have been looted and banks vandalized would be forced to pay for the damage they cause.
    The latest “yellow vest” marches began peacefully but degenerated on Saturday afternoon as protesters threw missiles at riot police blocking bridges over the Seine.
    Officers fired tear gas to prevent protesters crossing the river and reaching the National Assembly.    One riverboat restaurant was set ablaze and a policeman was wounded when he was hit by a bicycle hurled from a street above the river bank.
    Two months after they started blocking roads, occupying highway tollbooths and staging sometimes-violent street protests in Paris, the yellow vests aim to inject new momentum into a movement that weakened over the holidays.
(Reporting by Michel Rose and Marine Pennetier; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

1/8/2019 Oil up $0.56 to $48.52, DOW up 98 to 23,531

1/8/2019 Guatemala to shut down U.N. anti-corruption body early by Michelle Nichols
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales holds a news conference to announce the ending of the mandate of the
U.N.-backed anti-graft commission (CICIG), in Guatemala City, Guatemala, January 7, 2019. REUTERS/ Luis Echeverria
    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Guatemala notified the United Nations it was terminating a U.N.-backed anti-graft commission on Tuesday, months ahead of schedule, accusing the body of abuses of power, and prompting a swift rebuke from the U.N. secretary-general.
    The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, or CICIG, was set up over a decade ago with the authority to conduct independent investigations and work with the country’s prosecutors, bringing down the last president in 2015.
    The CICIG also went after President Jimmy Morales, who said in August he would not renew the organization’s mandate, which was due to expire in September 2019.    Days later, he banned CICIG head Ivan Velasquez, a hard-charging Colombian prosecutor, from re-entering the country.
    Working with the then-attorney general, CICIG tried to prosecute Morales, a former comedian, in 2017 over alleged campaign finance violations.    That move followed separate CICIG corruption probes into members of the president’s family.
    Guatemalan Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel met with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York on Monday and handed him a letter informing him of the government’s intention to end the agreement that had established CICIG.
    “It is regrettable that the Secretary-General, in a bid to maintain one person in the position, sacrificed the legitimacy of the commission,” Jovel told a news conference after the meeting, referring to Guterres’ decision to stand by Velasquez.
    “Therefore we reported to the Secretary-General that within 24 hours the agreement (that was struck to create CICIG) will be terminated by the Guatemalan government,” she said.
    Guterres “strongly rejects” the content of the letter, a spokesman for the secretary-general said in an emailed statement, adding that the United Nations expected Guatemala’s government to “fulfill its legal obligations under the agreement” until the CICIG mandate ends in September.
    “The Secretary-General recalls the important contribution of CICIG to the fight against impunity in Guatemala,” it said.
    Accompanied by prominent Guatemalans accused of wrongdoing by the CICIG, Morales told a news conference in Guatemala City he had ordered prosecutors to start investigating allegations that the commission had acted outside the law and abused its power.
    The foreign-led CICIG is unusual among U.N. bodies for its powers to bring cases to prosecutors, and many politicians in Guatemala consider it to be a violation of national sovereignty.    Anti-corruption activists credit it with cleaning up government.
    Last month, Guatemala’s government revoked visas and immunity for 11 CICIG investigators and two relatives.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Additional reporting by Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City; Editing by Dave Graham and Peter Cooney)

1/8/2019 Trump, Indian PM Modi discuss trade, Afghanistan: White House
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a bilateral meeting
alongside the ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed reducing the U.S. trade deficit with India and increasing their cooperation in Afghanistan in a telephone call on Monday, the White House said.
    “The leaders agreed to strengthen the U.S.-India strategic partnership in 2019 and exchanged perspectives on how to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with India, expand security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, and increase cooperation in Afghanistan,” the White House said in a statement.
    The United States has slapped tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from India, part of Trump’s drive to reduce the U.S. trade deficit and boost American manufacturing jobs.
    India has threatened to retaliate but said it would not take action until the end of this month.
    In Afghanistan, Trump is planning to withdraw more than 5,000 of the 14,000 U.S. troops there, a U.S. official said last month.
    With a reduced military presence in Afghanistan, the United States would almost certainly have to curtail its missions, which include training and advising Afghan forces and waging an air campaign against the Taliban and other militant groups.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Chris Reese and Peter Cooney)

1/8/2019 Top Republicans demanding update on probe into FBI, Dept. of Justice surveillance abuse by OAN Newsroom
    Top House Republicans are demanding answers from an attorney, who’s looking into allegations of surveillance abuse at the Department of Justice and the FBI.
    On Monday, GOP lawmakers on two House committees sent a letter to U.S. attorney John Huber asking for an update on the nine-month probe regarding claims of abuse when the two agencies obtained warrants to spy on the Trump campaign.
U.S. Attorney John W. Huber speaks outside the federal courthouse Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in Salt Lake City (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
    Republicans are saying during interviews with several former Department of Justice and FBI personnel, none of them mentioned having been contacted by Huber.
    That attorney is tasked with determining whether their accusations warrant an investigation.
    The committees’ own GOP-led probe wrapped-up last month, where they determined both the FBI and Department of Justice treated then-candidate Donald Trump unfairly.
[My comments: It’s about time someone forced the answers to that, and suspect the Democrats or DOJ, NSA and FBI are trying to delay it or cover it up.    I had Huber listed in the 2018 section of my FISA-UnderSurveillance.htm as seen below:
John W. Huber, an American lawyer who has served as the United States Attorney for the District of Utah since June 2015.    He was first nominated for the position by President Barack Obama in February 2015.    Huber offered his resignation in March 2017 at the request of the Trump administration.
    On August 3, 2017, he was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate to an additional four-year term as a U.S. Attorney and appointed by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate the FBI's surveillance of Carter Page and connections between the Clinton Foundation and Uranium One, starting in November 2017.    Obviously he is part of the conspiracy, as he has sit on it since and it was not until Mark Meadows started pushing it to the forefront again..    So why is he doing it again, so it will not go anywhere again?    Why are Senators letting the ‘Deepstate’ do this?]

1/8/2019 Calif. Gov. Newsom challenges federal immigration policies while taking oath by OAN Newsroom
    California’s new governor is vowing the state “will be a sanctuary to all who seek it” in direct opposition of the Trump administration’s hardline stance against those policies.
    Gavin Newsom repeatedly challenged federal immigration authorities during his inauguration Monday and took aim at the Trump White House.    He also called for the state’s government to serve as a contrasting example for the U.S. in comparison to the federal government.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, talks with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. Newsom was sworn-in Monday as California’s 40th governor. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
    Newsom also spoke out against the president’s repeated calls for a border wall.
    “But all kids, not just children of a governor and a filmmaker, should have a good life in California, shouldn’t be ripped away from their parents at the border and nor should they be left hungry when politicians seek to pour billions into a wall that should never be built,” stated Newsrom.
    His remarks come after Newman Police Corporal Ronil Singh died in the line of duty at the hands of an illegal alien last month.
    Newsom was sworn in as California’s 40th governor, and was joined by outgoing Governor Jerry Brown as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

1/8/2018 N.Y. Gov. Cuomo pledges to expand abortion rights within 30 days by OAN Newsroom
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, reacts as she stands on stage with
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in New York, during a dual appearance at Barnard College where
the pair called for codifying abortion rights into New York State law. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
    Former New York Senator Hillary Clinton is calling on the state to push through the most progressive agenda in its history.
    She joined state lawmakers and abortion activists on Monday to expand so-called reproductive rights now that Democrats control the state legislature.
    Governor Andrew Cuomo also spoke at the event in Manhattan, where he made the radical push to have abortion elevated to the status of a human right.
    Both Clinton and Cuomo tried to rile up their base by claiming the Supreme Court’s newest members would overturn Roe v. Wade.
    “So what do we do?    Protect ourselves: pass a state law that is a prophylactic from the federal action.    We have said we’re going to pass it in 30 days.    I believe we’re going to pass it in 30 days and just so there’s no ambiguity — we do the budget in April.    I will not pass a budget until the Reproductive Health Act and the Contraceptive Care Act are passed, period.”
Andrew Cuomo, Governor – New York.
    In addition to passing the act before passing a budget, Cuomo also pledged to put the issue on the ballot as a way to amend the state’s constitution.
[So over the next two years keep an eye on what the effects are of the state of California and New York look like when Progressive Socialist Liberal policies take over as I have stated in the meaning of Revelation 6:12-17.].

1/8/2019 Sen. Manchin: Extremist candidates will not win rural America in 2020 by OAN Newsroom
    West Virginia’s Democrat Senator Joe Manchin is breaking with the liberal wing of his party by saying only a realist and a centrist can win in 2020.
    During an interview Tuesday, Manchin said his state and rural America will not accept candidates with extremist views.
FILE In this Feb. 1, 2017 file photo, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. is interviewed
by The Associated Press in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    He also said Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is considering a 2020 run, would have a big problem in his state, and indicated she would have to change her positions on key issues to have a chance to win.
    Manchin believes real Americans need someone who will give them results.
    “I’m saying if you want to know why national politics and national Democrats aren’t winning in rural America, come to West Virginia — I’d be happy to host you all and let you see for yourself Appalachia,” he stated.
    President Trump won West Virginia by a landslide in 2016, and has visited the state a number of times since his election victory.

1/8/2019 Macron’s popularity edges up even as protesters persist: poll
FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron visits the
Renault Maubeuge Construction Automobile factory
in Maubeuge, France, November 8, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo
    PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron’s popularity ratings recovered in January, a survey showed on Tuesday, after a series of government concessions aimed at ending a wave of “yellow vest” protests against high living costs.
    The demonstrations shaking France since mid-November had further dented Macron’s standing at the end of last year, with his popularity dropping to record lows amid a backlash that started out as an outcry over planned fuel tax hikes.
    These were dropped in early December and Macron has since offered up further measures to appease protesters, including wage rises for the poorest workers.
    The 41-year-old’s approval ratings jumped by 5 percentage points to 28 percent in January from a month earlier, the Ifop-Fiducial poll for Paris Match and Sud Radio showed, after two straight months of declines in its poll.
    Some other recent surveys also showed improvement in Macron’s popularity in late December, albeit smaller ones.
    The Ifop poll of 1,014 people was carried out on Jan. 3-4, before the latest marches last Saturday when rioters torched motorbikes and set barricades ablaze in Paris.
    The French government has since toughened its stance and said it would crack down harder on undeclared protests and violence on the fringes of demonstrations.
    Attendance at the anti-government rallies across France also regained some ground last weekend after losing steam over the Christmas holidays.
    People surveyed by Ifop gave Macron the most credit for defending France’s interest overseas, but only 19 percent said they believed he understood voters’ concerns.    Thirty percent gave the thumbs up to his economic policies.
    Elected in mid-2017 on a platform of liberalizing the economy, Macron has promised to press on with his reform program and overhaul French institutions in spite of the “yellow vest” crisis.
    With European elections looming in May – another big test for Macron – France’s far right “National Rally” party, formerly known as the National Front and headed up by Marine Le Pen, is consolidating its position, the Ifop poll also showed.
    For the first time since May 2017 in the pollster’s rankings, Le Pen’s party emerged as the one that best represented the government’s main opposition, according to 35 percent of those surveyed.    That put it just ahead of the far-left La France Insoumise (France Unbowed).
(Reporting by Sarah White and Julie Carriat; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

1/8/2019 U.S. sanctions Venezuelan insiders for currency scheme by Doina Chiacu and Brian Ellsworth
Venezuela's Vice President Delcy Rodriguez talks to the media during a news conference at
Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
    WASHINGTON/CARACAS (Reuters) – The United States imposed sanctions that target a Venezuelan currency exchange network scheme that siphoned off billions of dollars to corrupt insiders of the Venezuelan government, the U.S. Treasury Department said on Tuesday.
    The seven individuals involved include a former treasurer of Venezuela, Claudia Diaz, and television mogul Raul Gorrin, who bribed the Venezuelan Treasury in order to conduct illegal foreign exchange operations, according to the U.S. Treasury.
    “Venezuelan regime insiders have plundered billions of dollars from Venezuela while the Venezuelan people suffer.    Treasury is targeting this currency exchange network which was another illicit scheme that the Venezuelan regime had long used to steal from its people,” Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
    The U.S. Treasury said the individuals used favorable foreign exchange transactions through brokerage firms controlled by Gorrin and were among the very few deals that were approved by Venezuela’s treasury.    The individuals concealed their profits in U.S. and European bank accounts and investments, it said.
    Reuters was unable to obtain comment from Diaz or Gorrin.    Diaz is under house arrest in Spain and Gorrin could not be immediately located.
    Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez described the measures as illegal and abusive during a news conference in Caracas.
    “They are not sanctions, because only the (U.N.) Security Council can impose international sanctions.    We’re talking about arbitrary measures because they are not backed by any international law,” said Rodriguez.
    Tuesday’s measures were Washington’s latest move against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, which is widely criticized for crippling the economy and undermining democracy.
    The United States imposed sanctions on Maduro’s wife, Cilia Flores, in September as President Donald Trump urged members of the United Nations to support a “restoration of democracy” in the once-booming country, a member of OPEC.
    The new sanctions apply to people involved in the corrupt system within Venezuela’s treasury since 2008, the U.S. Treasury said.
    The Treasury statement cited 23 groups in the scheme, including Globovision Tele in Caracas and Miami, Magus Holdings in Miami, Tindaya Properties in New York, and Planet 2 Reaching Inc and Posh 8 Dynamic Inc, both of Delaware.
    Venezuela’s treasurer before Diaz, Alejandro Andrade, was sentenced by a U.S. District Court in Florida in November to 10 years in prison for accepting more than $1 billion in bribes as part of the scheme.
    He was helped by Gorrin, owner of television station Globovision, who has been charged with paying bribes to Andrade and others as well as helping to launder the payments, according to U.S. court documents unsealed in November.
    The cases are part of a broad effort by U.S. prosecutors to crack down on the use of the American financial system to launder proceeds from corruption in the crisis-stricken country that is suffering from hyperinflation.
    Maduro has said little about criminal proceedings against former Venezuelan officials, but says the United States is seeking to undermine his government through financial sanctions.
    He is due to be inaugurated for his second term on Thursday.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Additional reporting by Brian Ellsworth in Caracas; Editing by Susan Thomas and Phil Berlowitz)

1/8/2019 Senators draft bipartisan bill to withhold pay from Congress during government shutdown by OAN Newsroom
    Congress could soon take up a new bill that would stop lawmakers from being paid during a government shutdown.
    In one of his first acts as senator, Indiana Republican Mike Braun has teamed up with West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin on the proposal.
Vice President Mike Pence administers a ceremonial Senate oath during a mock swearing-in ceremony to
Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    The bipartisan legislation would require lawmakers to go without pay, if they fail to pass an annual budget by the start of the fiscal year.
    It also looks to prevent lawmakers from receiving retroactive pay.
    In the meantime, President Trump has directed federal agencies to hold off on pay raises for top administration officials, including Vice President Pence, as the current shutdown continues.

1/8/2019 French official due to lead ‘yellow vests’ debate quits in pay furor
FILE PHOTO: French Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno speaks during the presentation of the Annecy 2018 bid at 123rd
International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in the coastal city of Durban, July 6, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo
    PARIS (Reuters) – The official appointed by the French government to lead a national debate over the grievances raised by ‘yellow vest’ protesters quit on Tuesday following a controversy over her salary.
    Former sports minister Chantal Jouanno said she could not guarantee conditions for a calm debate as she had become a focus of attention after a news magazine revealed she was paid 14,700 euros ($16,800) per month to head France’s National Commission for Public Debate.
    The Commission is a consultative body on environmental issues.
    The ‘yellow vests’ debate is due to be launched next week, giving President Emmanuel Macron little time to appoint a successor.
    The debate, whose precise mechanisms remain unclear, is one of the key proposals he made last month in response to the wave of violent protests that has spread across the country since November.
    Driving the unrest is anger, particularly among low-paid workers, over a squeeze on household incomes and a perception that Macron is indifferent to ordinary citizens’ needs as he enacts reforms seen as pro-business and favoring the wealthy.
    In reaction to Jouanno’s withdrawal, the government will propose “a way of steering the …debate that will …preserve."

1/8/2019 Supreme Court rules against “mystery corporation,” imposes $50K fine each day it fails to comply with subpoena by OAN Newsroom
(The United States Supreme Court in Washington D.C. USA)
    The Supreme Court sides with federal prosecutors in the mystery case that’s been making its way up the United States court system.
    The decision on Sunday forces the company to comply with a request for documents, and reimposes a fine for every day it fails to do so.
    The mystery corporation, which is owned by an unidentified government, has been avoiding complying with a grand jury subpoena.
    Legal analysts theorize the subpoena may have been issued by the Special Counsel against a bank from overseas, "Its guarantees of independence and neutrality,” an official at the Prime Minister’s office said.
(Reporting by Julie Carriat, Inti Landauro; editing by John Stonestreet)

1/8/2019 Judge has conflict in Mueller Probe, married to prosecutor who’s friends with Special Counsel by OAN Newsroom
    A possible conflict of interest surfaces in the Special Counsel’s investigation, this time, from across the bench.
    Reports today say the possible conflict rests with the judge overseeing Robert Mueller’s case against the Russian company Concord Management.
    Judge Dabney Friedrich is married to prosecutor Matthew Friedrich, who is good friends with Mueller, further, Friedrich has a close relationship with one of Mueller’s attorneys, Andrew Weissman.
    The Russian company has repeatedly claimed bias against the judge in the case.
    Now, many critics are asking why the alleged bias didn’t force the judge to recuse herself from the case.

1/8/2019 McConnell slams democrats over shutdown, claims partisan tantrum more important than public interest by OAN Newsroom
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. arrives on Capitol Hill
in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, as the 116th Congress begins. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY.) accuses democrats of hypocrisy over their stance border security as the partial government shutdown continues.
    Speaking from the Senate floor on Tuesday, McConnell gave examples of numerous democrats saying they supported a physical barrier at the southern border before President Trump took office.
    He included Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
    McConnell referred to the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was supported by 90 democrat congress members, and included funding for fencing along around 700 miles of the southern border.
    The Act was backed by Obama, Clinton, and Schumer.
    McConnell also rebuked Nancy Pelosi’s recent comments that walls are “immoral.”
    He claimed walls and barriers are not immoral and questioned if democrats are only opposing a barrier now because they want to oppose the President.
    The GOP leader indicated democrats are willing to go against the President on any issue, for any reason, and went on to say the Senate will only vote on funding legislation that can pass and the President says he’ll sign.

1/8/2019 President Trump preps for 3rd round of shutdown talks by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House
after meeting with lawmakers about border security, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Washington,
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence listen. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    President Trump will head to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to meet with Senate republicans during a working lunch, before going back to the White House for a meeting with congressional leaders.
    GOP staffers confirmed the meeting on Tuesday, saying lawmakers will huddle with the President to discuss reopening the government.
    This comes as Vice President Mike Pence, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen met with republicans on Tuesday over the issue.
    They’re reportedly urging lawmakers not to join democrats in passing individual spending bills to reopen federal agencies once department at a time.

1/8/2019 President Trump Delivers Border Security Speech, calls it a “national security crisis by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump holds his first ever address from the Oval Office, declaring a “crisis at the border” and arguing for funding towards the border wall.
    In a nearly ten minute long speech, the President reiterated most drugs come through the southern border, noting every year the number of deaths those drugs cause exceed that of the Vietnam War.
    He also called out democrats, suggesting their stances on the wall have changed since he took office in 2016.
    Finally, the President claimed illegal aliens are heading to the United States due to the booming economy.
    He said the U.S. will fund the wall indirectly through the passage of the newly-negotiated trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

1/9/2018 Oil up $1.26 to $49.78, DOW up 256to 23,787

1/9/2019 President Trump signs anti-human trafficking bill, speaks out on border security by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump is ramping up efforts to combat human trafficking through a bill he signed into law Wednesday.
    During the signing ceremony at the Oval Office, the president described human trafficking as as menace, which cannot be defeated without border security.
    He pointed out this bill is the forth piece of legislation he has signed on the issue since taking office.
    The new law will grant the State Department more funding for its annual human trafficking report, which monitors efforts being made to combat the global crisis.
President Donald Trump speaks to the media before signing anti-human trafficking legislation, Wednesday Jan. 9, 2019,
in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Behind him are Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen,
left, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, and Eric Dreiband,
Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    Despite ongoing efforts, the president suggested a wall will substantially help stop the practice domestically.
    “Human trafficking cannot be stopped if we don’t have a steel barrier or a concrete wall, something very powerful — it cannot be stopped,” said President Trump.    “We have the most talented law enforcement people in the world as far as I’m concerned…it doesn’t mean a thing if they’re going to be driving women and children through sections of the border where nobody is, where you can’t be because you don’t have enough man power.”
    The president also said he has the right to declare a national emergency on border security, and hinted this option is still on the table.

1/9/2019 U.S. supports EU’s decision to sanction Iran over alleged assassination attempts by OAN Newsroom
    The Trump administration is applauding the EU for slapping sanctions on Iran after the country was accused of plotting assassination attempts against two Dutch nationals.
    In a tweet Wednesday, National Security Adviser John Bolton said the U.S. strongly supports the EU’s decision to sanction an Iranian intelligence agency and its operatives, adding, we are united in our efforts to stop Iranian terrorism.
    Bolton’s tweet: “We strongly support the actions of our European partners to sanction a unit of the Iranian intelligence service and its operatives for multiple assassination plots on the continent since 2015.    We are united in our efforts to stop Iranian terrorism.”
    Pompeo’s tweet: “Today, EU issued its first sanctions against the Iranian regime since the Iran deal, and the Netherlands disclosed that #Iran directed the assassinations of two Dutch nationals in 2015 and 2017.    This follows Denmark and France foiling two Iranian terrorist attacks in 2018.”
    This comes after the Netherlands accused Tehran of directing the assassinations back in 2015, and after authorities foiled two Iranian terror attacks in Denmark and France just last year.
    On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the Trump administration plans to increase pressure on Iran.
    “And you’ll see in the coming days and weeks, we are redoubling not only our diplomatic, but our commercial efforts to put real pressure on Iran to achieve what it is we set out for them back in May, and these are simple asks we ask of the Islamic Republic of Iran, to behave like a normal nation and the coalition is just as committed to it today as it was yesterday,” stated Pompeo.
    This marks the first time the EU has sanctioned Iran since the Iran Nuclear Deal.
FILE – In this Dec. 26, 2018 file photo, National Security Adviser John Bolton attends a meeting
with President Donald Trump and senior military leadership at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

1/9/2019 Press Secretary Sanders: Emergency declaration to fund border wall still a possibility by OAN Newsroom
    Press Secretary Sarah Sanders recently said it’s still a possibility that President Trump will declare a national emergency to fund the border wall.
    Sanders made the comment during a press gaggle Wednesday, but still believes the best solution would be through congressional action.
    She then reiterated how the president has repeatedly attempted to find a solution with Democrats, but they are not willing to compromise.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders talks to reporters about the
government shutdown outside the White House, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    “The president was laying out the case and the problem directly to the American people and we have laid out a solution, in fact, we laid out a proposal that we put forward to Congress to Democrats specifically and we still haven’t heard back,” stated Sanders.    “They’ve yet to respond, they’ve yet to even make a counteroffer to come to the table, we hope they’ll get serious about negotiating.”
    Sanders also called out Democrats for not addressing the seriousness of the issue. The press secretary said they are, instead, playing politics.

1/9/2019 Democrats call on acting Attorney General Whitaker to testify by OAN Newsroom
    Democrats are calling on acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to testify before Congress.
    On Tuesday, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said Whitaker will be asked to appear before the panel sometime this month.    He said it will happen one way or the other, whether voluntarily or by force.
In this Nov. 21, 2018 photo, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker addresses
law enforcement officials at the Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
    Representative Nadler also said if the committee doesn’t reach a date with Whitaker over the next day or two then he will be subpoenaed.
    These words reiterate threats made by other Democrats, who wish to bring Whitaker before the committee to answer questions.
    “We will subpoena him, that subpoena will be upheld in the courts and he’s going to have to defend his investigation and whether or not he’s made any promises to President Trump,” said Democrat Representative Eric Swalwell.    “We would rather see that done voluntarily, this is the United States, it shouldn’t be adversarial for the people’s attorney general to come to Congress and tell the American people what his priorities are and whether he can uphold a lawful investigation.”
    Democrats are looking to question Whitaker over his involvement in the Mueller investigation, and whether he made any plans to derail the probe before he was named acting attorney general.
[The Democrats are so paranoid over the Mueller investigation which will most likely lead no where.].

1/9/2019 Venezuela’s Maduro warns of ‘diplomatic measures’ against LatAm critics
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds a copy of the National Constitution while he speaks
during a news conference at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero
    CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday warned he could take “diplomatic measures” against Latin American nations that signed a statement last week describing his second term, which starts on Thursday, as illegitimate.
    Members of the so-called Group of Lima, which includes Brazil, Argentina and Colombia, said Maduro’s new term would be illegitimate because the 2018 election that gave him a second term was not free or fair and that they would not recognize his leadership.
    Venezuela “has alerted very clearly to the governments of the Cartel of Lima that, if they do not rectify their position (…) we will take the most crude and energetic measures that can be taken in diplomacy,” Maduro, using a pejorative name for the group widely used by ruling Socialist Party leaders.
    He did not provide details what measures he could take.
    Maduro called Peru’s government “ridiculous” for announcing that it plans to prohibit Maduro and other high-ranking Venezuelan officials from entering its territory.
    The May 2018 election was widely boycotted by the opposition, which described it as a farce that was rigged in his favor.    Governments around the world also described it as illegitimate.
    Maduro insists the election was fair and that the opposition did not participate because it knew it would lose.    He accuses foreign governments including Latin American nations of seeking to overthrow him.
(Reporting by Vivian Sequera, writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by James Dalgleish)

1/9/2019 New Brazil government riven by divisions, policy confusion by Anthony Boadle
FILE PHOTO: Brazil's Economy Minister Paulo Guedes and the Chief of Staff Minister Onyx Lorenzoni
arrive for a ceremony at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File photo
    BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has stumbled out of the gate with infighting, policy flip-flops and confusion in his one-week-old government, raising concern among investors about his ability to carry out pressing fiscal reforms.
    Divisions have quickly emerged between his political and economic teams over plans to overhaul a messy tax code and costly pension system to bring a high budget deficit under control.
    Bolsonaro’s comments in interviews and Twitter posts have also been at odds with senior aides, a red flag for investors who expected the government to arrive focused on a swift pension reform to shore up its finances before tackling an array of hot-button social issues and foreign policy proposals.
    On Friday, for example, Bolsonaro told reporters he was increasing the tax on financial operations and cutting the highest income tax rate.    That prompted a quick denial from an undersecretary to Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, with Chief of Staff Onyx Lorenzoni later saying the president was mistaken.
    The back-and-forth unsettled investors who had been pleased at the team of orthodox economists assembled by Guedes, many of whom are fellow alumni of the University of Chicago’s free-market school of economics.
    It put many in a wait-and-see mode, especially in debt markets, said Fabio Knijnik, head of Sao Paulo-based wealth fund K2 Capital.
    While many domestic investors remain bullish, foreigners with other options have been more cautious about Brazil.
    “They are less likely to put money into a country where you have a finance secretary saying that what the president just said makes no sense,” he said.    “We are not seeing this government’s members marching to the same tune.”
    Brazil’s stock market has been one of the best performing in the world over the past six months, with the benchmark Bovespa stock index <.BVSP> climbing 25 percent as Bolsonaro won election in October and appointed his market-friendly cabinet.
    Brazil’s currency and stocks extended a rally into the new year, but gains have slowed as questions mount.
    On Wednesday, Bolsonaro celebrated a record high for the Bovespa.    “Optimism about the new Brazilian government is adding to the global scenario,” he said on Twitter.
    However, confusion about pension reform, which Knijnik called the keystone of the president’s economic agenda, has some worried that the party might not last.
    Bolsonaro proposed in an interview with the SBT television network that the new minimum retirement age would be 62 for men and 57 for women, higher than now but lower than ages proposed by the previous government.
    Investors read that as a sign that he could water down the bill written by the prior government to limit the political costs, easing passage through Congress but requiring further legislation down the road.
    Guedes has said he favors a tougher proposal that may be politically difficult but would make a larger and more lasting impact on public debt, which has soared to 77 percent of gross domestic product.
    “The political and economic teams are at odds. There is a lack of cohesion and even coordination between President Bolsonaro’s closest aides,” said Leonardo Barreto, head of Brasilia-based political consultancy Factual.
    Guedes is taking an all-or-nothing approach to fiscal reforms, while Lorenzoni has signaled he would make concessions to lawmakers to shore up political support, said Barreto.
    The contradictions highlight broader tensions in Bolsonaro’s government, which brings together statist former military officers, right-wing nationalists, the Chicago-trained economists and Christian evangelicals — all with different priorities.
    Bolsonaro has already faced disagreement from the armed forces over his suggestion that Brazil could host a U.S. military base.
    Investors fear the government will turn first to the social issues dear to Bolsonaro’s conservative electoral base, burning political capital needed for the unpopular pension reform.
    The farm and gun lobbies want Bolsonaro to move quickly to ease laws restricting the possession of firearms.
    Evangelical supporters want sex education, gender diversity and leftist political thinkers removed from the public school curriculum.
    “After they pass pension reform, then they can deal with all the ideological stuff they talk about, like girls wearing pink and boys blue,” Knijnik said.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; additional reporting by Lisandra Paraguassú and Marcela Ayres; editing by Brad Haynes and Rosalba O’Brien)

1/9/2019 France, Germany approve extension of reconciliation treaty to shore up EU
FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shake hands
after speaking to reporters ahead of their meeting in Berlin, Germany, November 18, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
    BERLIN (Reuters) – France and Germany have agreed to deepen a 1963 treaty of post-war reconciliation in a bid to show that the European Union’s main axis remains strong and counter growing eurosceptic nationalism among some other members.
    The extension to the Elysee Treaty approved by the German and French cabinets will be signed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron in the German border city of Aachen, an historical symbol of European concord, on Jan. 22.
    “Both states will deepen their cooperation in foreign affairs, defence, external and internal security and development and at the same time work on strengthening the ability of Europe to act independently,” states the treaty text, seen by Reuters.
    In Paris, Macron’s office said the Elysee Treaty extension would help both European powers tackle “the challenges they will be confronted with in the 21st century.”
    “(We) envisage deepening our engagement in favour of security and prosperity of our peoples in the framework of a more sovereign, united and democratic Europe,” it said.
    The treaty extension, negotiated over the past year though short on details, stipulates that it will be a priority of German-French diplomacy for Germany to be accepted as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
    Germany has for years sought greater influence within the international body, to which its closest allies the United States, Britain and France belong.
    While making clear that Germany and France remain committed to the EU and NATO defense alliance, the agreement also signals that Berlin and Paris will combat efforts by some nationalist politicians in Europe to erode the 28-nation EU.
    On Wednesday, Italian far-right Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said he wanted his country and Poland to join forces to reshape Europe in his quest for a eurosceptic alliance ahead of the European Parliament elections in May.
    “Germany and France are making clear that to solve future questions, we need more, not less cooperation,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.
    Facing new challenges from U.S. President Donald Trump in the United States as well as EU governments in Italy, Poland and Hungary, Merkel and Macron are keen to head off any breakthrough for eurosceptic parties in the European Parliament vote.
    The treaty further outlines closer cooperation between national intelligence services and police in fighting terrorism and organized crime, and a commitment to moving toward economic convergence.
    “Both states will deepen the integration of their economies towards a German-French economic area with common rules,” said the treaty text, referring also to calls for the harmonization of economic law.    In addition, they will set up a panel of experts to give economic recommendations to each government.
    Other areas of cooperation include culture, health, innovation and transport.
    Aachen, the venue of the signing ceremony, was the residence of Charlemagne, often called the “father of Europe,” who managed to unite much of western Europe in the early ninth century.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke in Berlin, Michel Rose and John Irish in Paris; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

1/10/2019 Oil up $2.58 to $52.36, DOW up 92 to 23,879

1/10/2019 Trump walks out of meeting on closure - Talks on closure end after wall plan rejected by Maureen Groppe, David Jackson and Michael Collins, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump walked out of a negotiating meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday and said he might declare a national emergency at the border after Democrats refused to yield to his demands for money for a border wall.
    Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters that Trump abruptly ended the White House session after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she did not support his border wall.
    “He just got up and said we have nothing to discuss, and he walked out,” Schumer said.    “He just walked out of the meeting.”
    Schumer called Trump’s behavior “unbecoming of a president.”
    Vice President Mike Pence and Republican lawmakers disputed the Democrats’ account and said the meeting ended after Democrats refused to offer a counterplan to reopen the government and demanded the GOP adopt their proposal.
    Trump gave Schumer and Pelosi the floor to make their case, but “they want to argue,” said House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
    Trump treated the Democrats politely, McCarthy said, but they reacted with “embarrassing” behavior.
    Trump himself seemed to confirm that he had walked out of the session, writing on Twitter: “Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if     I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!
    The end of what was supposed to be a new round of bipartisan talks came on the 19th day of a partial government shutdown – now the second-longest in history – that was triggered by Trump’s demands for $5.7 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and Democrats’ refusal to give him the money.
    Earlier Wednesday, Trump said he was still considering declaring a national emergency on the border if negotiations with Democrats fail to yield a deal on funding for the wall he is demanding.
    “I have the absolute right to do (a) national emergency if I want.” President Donald Trump.
    Trump told reporters that he thought he and Democrats might be able to come to an agreement but that an emergency declaration is an option to free up money for a wall.
    “I think we might work a deal (on the government shutdown), and if we don’t, I may go that route,” he said.    “I have the absolute right to do (a) national emergency if I want. … My threshold will be if I can’t make a deal with people that are unreasonable.”
    A emergency declaration theoretically would allow Trump to use military money to build the wall.    But Democrats and some Republicans have questioned the legality of such a move, saying an emergency declaration would be challenged in court.
    Ahead of Wednesday’s failed bipartisan meeting, Trump and Pence traveled to the Capitol for a closed-door luncheon with Senate Republicans.
    Speaking to reporters afterward, Trump reiterated that he might pursue a national emergency declaration to get funding for his wall absent progress in negotiations with Democrats.
    “I may do that at some point,” Trump said, “if they don’t agree with the fact that our country really has problems with crime.”
    Trump repeatedly sought to portray a sense of unity among Republicans, even as some have suggested opening portions of the government while negotiations over the wall continue.
    “There was no discussion about anything other than solidarity,” Trump said.    “The Republicans are totally unified.”
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also stressed that Republicans remain solidly behind Trump in the budget standoff.    But at least three GOP senators – Cory Gardner of Colorado, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – have publicly said the Senate should at least consider the House plan to reopen the government.
    “The operations of the Department of Interior and the National Park Service or the operations of the IRS and whether or not tax refunds go out don’t have anything to do with border security,” Murkowski told reporters Tuesday.
    “So let’s bifurcate these issues.    Let’s set them aside.    Let’s allow for the operations, these governmental functions in these six other departments, allow for them to continue.”
    Contributing: Deborah Barfield Berry and Trevor Hughes
Trash lies uncollected on the National Mall in Washington during the shutdown,
now the second-longest in history. JIM LO SCALZO/EPA

1/10/2019 Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller probe, to leave post by Kevin Johnson and Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel investigation into the 2016 election, is expected to leave his post in a matter of weeks, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday.
    The move is timed to the anticipated confirmation of William Barr, who was nominated by President Donald Trump to succeed ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
    The person familiar with the transition said Rosenstein is leaving on his own terms.
    Senate confirmation hearings for Barr are scheduled to start Jan. 15, and a vote could follow in the coming weeks.
    Rosenstein’s expected departure would come after a tumultuous 20 months, in which he has often been placed at odds with the administration he works for and Trump himself.
    Since his appointment of Robert Mueller to lead the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Rosenstein has been the target of unrelenting criticism from Trump, who has derided the inquiry as a witch hunt.
    During that time, Rosenstein has been seen as a key shield for Mueller as Trump and some Republican lawmakers have openly mulled removing both Rosenstein and Mueller.
    Rosenstein’s appointment of Mueller was prompted by Sessions’ recusal from the inquiry because of his work for the Trump campaign.    The recusal ultimately led to Sessions’ firing following the November midterm elections.
    If confirmed, Barr would assume management of the Mueller investigation, widely believed to be in its final stages.    Rosenstein has continued to help oversee the inquiry since the November appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, the interim replacement for Sessions.
    Barr, meanwhile, was on Capitol Hill Wednesday, meeting with lawmakers in advance of next week’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.    Barr was attorney general from 1991-93 during George H.W. Bush administration.
    Asked about Rosenstein’s status, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday that the deputy attorney general had long planned to serve two years.    He was confirmed by the Senate in April 2017.
    “I know (Rosenstein) has a great deal of respect for the new nominee for attorney general, Mr. Barr,” Sanders said on Fox News.    “And I think they have a great relationship."
    “I haven’t spoken to the deputy attorney general myself, so I’ll leave any announcement for him or the president to make when they want to do that.    But certainly I don’t think there’s any willingness by the president or White House to push him out.    My guess is that he is making room for the new attorney general to build a team he wants around him.”
    Rosenstein had considered resigning from his post as recently as September in the wake of a New York Times report indicating that the deputy attorney general had suggested invoking the 25th Amendment last year to remove Trump.
    Rosenstein has strongly denied the report, which indicated that he suggested recording Trump’s conversations in hopes of triggering the president’s removal from office.
    Democrats expressed deep concern Wednesday about Rosenstein’s pending departure.    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the development only “heightens the stakes” for Barr’s looming confirmation hearing.
Rod Rosenstein

1/10/2019 Mexico prepares for arrival of next Central American migrant caravan by Diego Oré
FILE PHOTO: Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying
to reach the United States, leave a temporary shelter voluntarily, which is to be closed by Mexican authorities
for sanitary reasons, in Tijuana Mexico January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican authorities will meet with Central American officials to prepare for the arrival of a planned new caravan of migrants headed to the United States next week.
    The head of Mexico’s immigration office, Tonatiuh Guillen, left on Wednesday on a trip to El Salvador and Honduras to meet with his counterparts and other authorities, said Interior Ministry spokesman Hector Gandini.
    Mexico hopes to discourage a mass exodus from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and wants Central Americans who decide to migrate north to do so in an orderly way and through legal ports of entry.
    “The doors to Mexico are open to anyone who wants to enter in an orderly fashion,” Gandini told Reuters in a telephone interview.    “But whoever wants to come in illegally will be deported.”
    Previous Central American caravans became a flashpoint in the debate over U.S. immigration policy.
    That was intensified by the recent deaths of two migrant children in American custody and a partial U.S. government shutdown over U.S. President Donald Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion in funding for a wall along the border with Mexico.
    There are 12 legal ports of entry for Central Americans on Mexico’s southern border, but Mexican authorities have identified an additional 370 illegal points of entry on that frontier, Interior Minister Olga Sanchez said this week.
    Mexico borders in the south with Guatemala and Belize.
    The illegal entry points will be “monitored and controlled to avoid undocumented access of people to our territory,” Sanchez said.
    Guatemala’s deputy foreign minister, Pablo Cesar Garcia, met with Mexican authorities on Tuesday to discuss the caravan and to “provide all the necessary support to the migrants,” said Guatemalan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marta Larra.
    “In Honduras, they kill us,” read an appeal circulating on social media for people to assemble in the violent Honduran city of San Pedro Sula next Tuesday to start the long trek north to the United States.
    While other social media posts invite people to leave from nearby Santa Barbara on Jan. 20, U.S. authorities hoped to dissuade Central Americans from making the journey.
    “The risks of illegal immigration are serious.    Don’t waste your time and money on a trip destined to fail.    The road is long and very dangerous.    Thousands of Hondurans who participated in the caravan came back sorry,” Heide Fulton, the U.S chargé d’affaires to Honduras, said on Twitter on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Diego Ore; Additional reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa, Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City, Nelson Renteria in San Salvador and Lizbeth Diaz in Tijuana, Mexico; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Peter Cooney)

1/10/2019 Oil drops 1 percent on U.S.-China trade talks, American supply surge by Noah Browning
FILE PHOTO: Oil pumps are seen after sunset outside Vaudoy-en-Brie,
near Paris, France November 14, 2018. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
    LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices fell more than 1 percent on Thursday due to the lack of any clear resolution to U.S.-China trade talks and official data that again indicated vast fuel stocks in the United States.
    U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $51.66 per barrel at 0950 GMT, down 70 cents, or 1.3 percent, from their last settlement.     International Brent crude futures were also down 1.3 percent, or 79 cents, at $60.65 per barrel.
    Both benchmarks rose by around 5 percent the previous day, capping off a week-long climb that marked oil’s longest sustained rise since last summer.
    Global financial markets had surged on hopes that Washington and Beijing may soon end their dispute and avert an all-out trade war between the two biggest economies.
    Some of the positive feeling ebbed on Thursday, however, a day after negotiations wrapped up with mildly positive statements from both sides but few details.
    The U.S. Trade Representative’s offices said in a statement on Wednesday that the two sides discussed “ways to achieve fairness, reciprocity and balance in trade relations.”
    China’s Commerce Ministry said the talks “established a foundation for the resolution of each others’ concerns.”
    Vandana Hari of consultancy Vanda Insights in Singapore said oil prices dropped “as optimism fueled by the U.S.-China trade talks earlier in the week appeared to have run its course, and official statements after the conclusion of three days of negotiations, while indicating modest progress, lacked details.”
    Meanwhile, U.S. bank Morgan Stanley cut its 2019 oil price forecasts by more than 10 percent on Wednesday, pointing to weakening economic growth expectations and rising oil supply, especially from the United States.
    The bank now expects Brent to average $61 a barrel this year, down from a previous estimate of $69, and U.S. crude to average $54, against a prior forecast of $60.
    The main source of new supply is the United States, where crude oil production remained at a record 11.7 million barrels per day in the week ended Jan. 4, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
    That has resulted in swelling fuel inventories.
    The surge in U.S. production runs counter to efforts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut supply and rein in an emerging glut.
    “Balancing the market would require OPEC discipline to continue well into 2020,” Morgan Stanley said.
(Reporting by Noah Browning; Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein in Singapore; Editing by Dale Hudson)

1/10/2019 McConnell blocks vote on House-passed bills to reopen government by OAN Newsroom
    House-passed bills to reopen the government will not get a vote in the Senate after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked two pieces of legislation.
    McConnell made the decision Thursday on two Democrat-led bills — one of which would have funded the Department of Homeland Security through February 8, 2019 and the other which would have funded the remaining appropriations bills through September.
    This comes after McConnell said the upper chamber will not participate in “show votes” and will not vote on anything that wouldn’t be signed by the president.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. speaks to reporters as
he walks into his office for a meeting with Senate Republicans on
Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    On the Senate floor, the Kentucky lawmaker said Democrats are hypocritical for their stance on border security, and claimed they are acting with political spite.
    “So, let’s call it what it is — a flip-flop that is not based on principle or on evidence, but solely on the fact the President Trump is the occupant of the White House,” stated the Senate majority leaders.
    McConnell went on to say partisan tantrums are no way to govern, and claimed Democrats should seek treatment for their allergies to border security.
[Will someone tell the Congress that Article One says they are required to protect the United States borders of America, instead of ignoring it.].

1/10/2019 President Trump calls on Democrats for cooperation on border security by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump is threatening to use his executive power to declare the border crisis a national emergency if Congress fails to come to an agreement on funding.
    Prior to his departure for Texas, the president insisted a strong border is needed, adding, a wall or steel barrier is essential to border security in order to stop people from entering the country illegally.
    The president went on to say he would rather work with Congress in order to secure funding for the wall, however, he is willing to declare a national emergency if Democrats are not willing to make a deal.
    “I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency, the lawyers have so advised me,” stated President Trump.    “I’m not prepared to do that yet, but if I have to I will — I have no doubt about it, I will.”
    The president told reporters he is seeing strong support and unity in the Republican party.    He also affirmed Mexico will be paying for the wall many times over through the new USMCA trade deal.
President Donald Trump pauses while speaking to the media as he leaves the White House,
Thursday Jan. 10, 2019, in Washington, en route for a trip to the border in Texas
as the government shutdown continues. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    Meanwhile, President Trump is rejecting a claim by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer after the Democrat accused him of throwing a “temper tantrum” after a recent shutdown meeting.    In a tweet Thursday, the president said “cryin’ Chuck” told his favorite lie when he said the president slammed the table before walking out of talks Wednesday.
    President Trump refuted the statement by saying he politely said “bye bye” and left after Schumer and Nancy Pelosi said no to “proper border security.”
    Trump tweet: “Cryin Chuck told his favorite lie when he used his standard sound bite that I 'slammed the table & walked out of the room.    He had a temper tantrum.' Because I knew he would say that, and after Nancy said no to proper Border Security, I politely said bye-bye and left, no slamming!
    The president said Wednesday’s talks were a “total waste of time” after Democrats again rejected his call for a southern border wall.

1/10/2019 U.S. condemns Venezuela’s Maduro for ‘usurpation of power’
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro is sworn in by Venezuela's Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno,
during the ceremonial swearing-in for his second presidential term,
at the Supreme Court in Caracas, Venezuela January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins January 10, 2019

1/10/2019 Paraguay cuts diplomatic ties with Venezuela after Maduro sworn in
Paraguay's President Mario Abdo addresses the audience as he announces that his government
was cutting diplomatic ties with Venezuela and was immediately withdrawing his country's diplomats
from Caracas, in Asuncion, Paraguay, January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Adorno
    ASUNCION (Reuters) – Paraguayan President Mario Abdo said on Thursday he was cutting diplomatic ties with Venezuela and was immediately withdrawing his country’s diplomats from Caracas.
    Abdo made the announcement just minutes after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was sworn into a new term in office.    Maduro has shrugged off global criticism that his leadership is illegitimate due to last year’s disputed election.
    “There are no bad consequences when defending just causes,” Abdo said in a television address.    “The cause of liberty and democracy is a just cause.”
(Reporting by Mariel Cristaldo,; Writing by Ross Colvin; Editing by Hugh Bronstein)

1/10/2019 French companies bruised by ‘yellow vests’ protests by Sudip Kar-Gupta
FILE PHOTO: A damaged shop window is seen at the Champs-Elysees avenue in the aftermath of a rally by
yellow vests protesters against higher fuel prices in Paris, France, November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo
    PARIS (Reuters) – French companies have this week revealed some 60 million euros ($69 million) of lost business from anti-government protests rocking the country, which could augur badly for the likes of supermarket chains Casino and Carrefour.
    Shares in retailer FNAC Darty fell on Thursday after the electronics goods retailer estimated a revenue hit of some 45 million euros from the closure of stores during the protests and fewer shoppers.     With no sign of the protests ending, Air France KLM said the unrest had reduced sales by 15 million euros — a relatively small figure for the Franco-Dutch airline but enough to push its shares down too.     The “yellow vests” (‘gilets jaunes’) movement – named after the fluorescent jackets all French motorists carry in their vehicles – started in the middle of November as a protest against a fuel tax but has since grown into a broader backlash against the government.     The demonstrations have been marred by violence that has led to shopping districts and tourist hotspots having to close down on some weekends.     “The impact will be felt first and foremost with those companies with a physical presence on the high street, such as FNAC Darty.    But others will also be impacted, such as hotels group Accor since the ‘gilets jaunes’ has been negative for tourism in Paris,” said Meriem Mokdad, fund manager at Roche Brune Asset Management.
    Data on Wednesday showed consumer confidence last month fell to its lowest level in four years as consumer fretted about their purchasing power and ability to make large purchases – and figures later in January from Casino and Carrefour could reflect that.
    Confidence was also down in France’s construction industry as a result of the protests, said HSBC, which said it was revisiting its valuation of Bouygues’ construction related business to better reflect the global environment.
    Catering and food services group Sodexo warned it had concerns for later this year.    Sodexo owns Paris cabaret Le Lido, the Yachts de Paris luxury river cruising business and has the catering contract for a restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.
    “We are more worried about the impact of the protests on the spring-summer tourism season,” said CEO Denis Machuel.
    The FCD French retail association, which speaks for both supermarket retailers and upmarket department stores, estimated that there had been a revenue loss of around 2 billion euros over the course of November and December.
    “Needless to say, you will have similar warnings from other big Paris shops.    In essence the Champs Elysees has been closed every weekend for the last two months, so outlets such as LVMH and Le Bon Marché will get hit,” said Ion-Marc Valahu, fund manager at Geneva-based investment firm Clairinvest.
    “The companies in Paris’ CAC-40 index will get impacted to a certain extent because the ‘gilets jaunes’ have brought the French economy to a standstill,” added Valahu.
    The signs of bruising to French companies comes after a study in financial daily Les Echos this week showed that the country’s top companies had paid out dividends worth 57 billion euros last year, as President Emmanuel Macron pursued his reform drive.
    Jerome Schupp, fund manager at Swiss investment firm Prime Partners, said that given the risks from the protests he would favor international companies over those exposed to the domestic French economy, such as Casino and Carrefour.
(GRAPHIC: Paris riots roil French equities –
(GRAPHIC: Protests slow French GDP –
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Additional reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Keith Weir)

1/10/2019 President Trump cancels Davos trip due to government shutdown by OAN Newsroom
A helicopter passes over razor wire atop the border wall Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019,
seen from Tijuana, Mexico. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
    President Trump is skipping out on the World Economic Forum in Switzerland this month due to the government shutdown.
    In a tweet Thursday, the president said because Democrats continue to obstruct his administration’s efforts to secure the border, he is respectfully cancelling his upcoming trip to Davos.
    He gave his deepest apologies to the world leaders expected to attend for his absence.
    Trump tweet: “Because of the Democrats intransigence on Border Security and the great importance of Safety for our Nation, I am respectfully cancelling my very important trip to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. My warmest regards and apologies to the @WEF!”     It comes as he continues to press for a deal with Democrat members of Congress, declaring that he would not sign a spending bill if it did not include border wall funding.

1/10/2019 President Trump tours border in Texas, meets with agents, lawmakers & angel families by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump recently reaffirmed his right to declare a national emergency over border security funding, and slammed Democrats for politicizing the issue.
    He visted McAllen, Texas Thursday, where he toured the border and met with law enforcement on the front lines.
    The president held a roundtable with agents, lawmakers and angel families, including the brother of the California police officer murdered by an illegal alien on Christmas.
President Donald Trump speaks as tours the U.S. border with Mexico at the Rio Grande
on the southern border, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in McAllen, Texas, as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, listens. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    During the roundtable meeting, the president hit back against the left for accusing the White House of manufacturing the crisis at the southern border.    He said criminal gangs and drugs will continue to flood into the U.S. without proper border security, and the human trafficking crisis will only get worse.
    The president said border security funding would not just pay for a steel barrier wall.    It would also fund drug detection technology, aid in increasing the number of border patrol agents as well has help with improving conditions at detention centers.
    President Trump also hit back against the media, saying Mexico is absolutely paying for wall through the USMCA trade deal.

1/11/2019 Oil up $0.23 to $52.59, DOW up 123 to 24,002

1/11/2019 Pentagon prepares wall options - Design work can proceed if emergency declared by Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – The Pentagon is preparing options to build barriers on the southern border in the event that President Donald Trump declares a national emergency there, the latest indication such a move is gaining traction within the administration.
    “The Department of Defense is reviewing available authorities and funding mechanisms to identify options to enable border barrier construction,” said Navy Capt. Bill Speaks, a Pentagon spokesman.    “As there has not been such a declaration made, it would be inappropriate to comment further on those efforts.”
    The confirmation of the preparations comes after Trump on Thursday gave his most explicit warning yet that he was considering a declaration of a national emergency as a way of freeing up funds for a border wall if talks with Democrats fail to yield a deal on his signature issue.
    Trump’s declaration of an emergency at the southern border would allow the Army Corps of Engineers to design barriers and allow contracts to build them. Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, who commands the corps, accompanied Trump on his trip Thursday to tour the border in Texas, according to the White House.
    Trump on Thursday suggested the declaration could happen at any time.    Talks to end the partial shutdown of the federal government between Trump and Democratic leaders fell apart Wednesday over border security.
    “If this doesn’t work out, probably I will do it – I would almost say definitely,” Trump said.    “We have plenty of funds if there’s a national emergency.”
    Vice President Mike Pence told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday afternoon that Trump is determined to build a wall on the border: “The president believes he has an absolute right to declare a national emergency.    The president is going to get this done one way or the other.”
    Those funds would come from the Pentagon’s budget for construction projects approved by Congress but not yet spent.
    Democrats have vowed to challenge the declaration in court.
    “If congressional Republicans go along with this so-called emergency, future presidents will undoubtedly try and make similar end runs around Congress’ constitutional authority,” Sen. Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said Thursday night.    “So I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will take the long view and do what is best for our nation, not just one administration.”
Prototype wall samples along the U.S. border with Tijuana, Mexico. SANDY HUFFAKER/GETTY IMAGES

1/11/2019 Judicial Watch seeks deposition of Obama officials about Benghazi by OAN Newsroom
    Judicial Watch is seeking answers from top Obama officials in relation to Benghazi.
    The watchdog filed papers in court Thursday, asking for the depositions of former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice and White House Communications adviser Ben Rhodes.
    The pair will likely be grilled about their decision to describe Benghazi as a “protest-gone awry” when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had already declared it terrorism.
FILE – In this Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, file photo, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with
Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief of The Atlantic, during The Atlantic Festival, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
    “And this was an important issue, the Benghazi scandal led to the killing of four innocent Americans, and you can see from this discovery and what we are having to figure out in terms of the way this case was derailed, dishonestly, what we’ve had to go through just to get basic answers to this major, major investigation,” explained Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
    Judicial Watch believes the answer to this contradiction can be found on Clinton’s private email server, and that both Rice and Rhodes likely have information about those records.
[Anyone with brains in their head could see that Obama avoided these questions when he ran against Mitt Romney, and of course Hillary lied about all that occurred about the subject.].

1/11/2019 Sen. Cruz: Democrats forcing partial government shutdown to appease their base by OAN Newsroom
    Senator Ted Cruz is blaming the partial government shutdown on — what he calls — the most radical and extreme members of the Democrat Party.
    During an interview with the Daily Caller Friday, the Texas lawmaker said Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are being held captive by far-left Democrats.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, speaks as she stands next to Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y.,
left, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., right, following their meeting with President Donald Trump
at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    He claimed Democrats are filled with hatred and anger for President Trump and are politicizing the shutdown.
    “It’s important to note, Schumer and Pelosi’s objection to the wall is not subsitive, it’s not based on policy,” he stated.    “Schumer and most of the Democrats have voted previously for $40 billion, over $40 billion, in funding for border security and building a wall, they voted for it in the past — their problem is political.”
    Senator Cruz went on to say Democrats are forcing a shutdown to appease their base.

1/11/2019 Treasure Secretary Mnuchin defends decision to lift sanctions on Russian oligarch by OAN Newsroom
    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defends the decision to lift sanctions on Russian companies linked to oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
    Mnuchin made the comments on Thursday, saying the administration would continue to keep a grasp on the firms despite last month’s decision to ease restrictions.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks to reporters after giving a classified briefing to members of the
House of Representatives, telling them that the Trump administration will keep strict U.S. sanctions on the
Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    In a recent statement, the secretary said the companies will face swift consequences and sanctions will be brought back if they fail to comply.
    The businesses have agreed to restructure in order to reduce the oligarch’s stakes.
    “If anything we are trying to de-link these companies, so that they will not be under the influence and control of a sanctioned oligarch, that’s our objectiv,” explained Mnuchin.
    The treasury secretary went on to say the goal of sanctions is to change behavior, and he believes the decision shows sanctions can result in positive change.

1/11/2019 Venezuelans in Colombia, Peru protest as Nicolas Maduro begins second term by OAN Newsroom
    Venezuelans living in Peru and Colombia protest the beginning of President Nicolas Maduro’s second term despite the humanitarian crisis under his regime.
    At a ceremony Thursday, Maduro was sworn in by Venezuela’s Supreme Court before a group of pro-government supporters.
Venezuelan citizens living in Brazil hold signs that read in Spanish “S.O.S. Venezuela. Don’t leave us alone,” left,
and “Maduro. Illegitimate,” during protest against the inauguration of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro
outside Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. Maduro started a second, six-year term Thursday despite
international cries urging him to step down and return democratic rule to a country suffering a historic economic implosion. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
    Meanwhile, members of the surrounding Latin American countries, including Colombian President Ivan Duque, called Maduro’s ongoing reign illegitimate after an election marred with fraud.
    “All the countries of the hemisphere that defend democracy unite in a single voice to protect that national assembly, so that the entire world rejects this dictatorship,” stated President Duque.
    The outrage is not limited to Latin America though as the United States and European Union also condemned Maduro’s reelection last year.
    In the meantime, the international community is drawing attention to the migrant crisis in surrounding countries as thousands of Venezuelans flee Maduro’s’ government.

1/11/2019 Secretary Mnuchin: Chinese vice premier will visit U.S. for trade talks at end of month by OAN Newsroom
    Preparations are underway for another round of high-level trade talks between the U.S. and China.    Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are expected to meet with the Chinese vice premier in Washington, D.C. later this month.
    The last time the Chinese premier was in the U.S. for trade talks an agreement was reached, but the plan was later scrapped by President Trump in May 2018.    Experts believe his return to Washington could be a sign both countries are closing in on a deal as the clock continues to run on a 90-day tariff truce.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He attends the opening ceremony of the
World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai, 2018. (Photo/Reuters)
    At this point, Mnuchin is confident the visit will take place as planned despite government delays caused by the shutdown.
    “The current intent is that the Vice Premier Liu, he will most likely come and visit us later in the month and I would expect the government shutdown would have no impact,” he stated.    “We will continue with those meetings just as we sent a delegation to China.”
    The U.S. delegation to China wrapped up its talks in Beijing this week. President Trump praised the progress made so far, but warned he will implement new tariffs on China in March if the country doesn’t make concessions on trade.

1/11/2019 Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign fined for not providing workers’ comp coverage by OAN Newsroom
    New York is fining freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign for failing to provide its employees with worker’s compensation.
    According to reports, the campaign was forced to pay a $1,500 fine for not providing the required insurance.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left, and D-N.Y., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., center, walk down
the House steps. Also pictured is Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., right. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    The Democrat socialist has not responded to explain why she did not offer worker’s compensation between March and April of last year.
    During this time, campaign staffers were not covered for injuries received on the job.
    The New York Republican Party has since slammed Ocasio-Cortez as a hypocrite, saying the violation is “not a good look” for someone who claims to be a champion for workers.

1/11/2019 With scant hope of success, Venezuelan opposition talks of removing Maduro
A man holding a placard that reads "Maduro usurper" takes part in a gathering with members of the
Venezuelan National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela January 11, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero
    CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s opposition-led Congress planned a public gathering on Friday to discuss ways to remove leftist President Nicolas Maduro, just a day after his swearing-in to a disputed second term, although the effort looked unlikely to succeed.
    Maduro was re-elected in an election last year that was widely dismissed as fraudulent, and countries around the world called his continued leadership illegitimate.    Ruling Socialist Party leaders have described the criticism as colonialist interference led by the United States.
    The country’s perennially fractured opposition has made numerous failed attempts over the past 20 years to remove the ruling socialists.
    The Supreme Court and an all-powerful legislature called the Constituent Assembly have stripped Congress of its powers, meaning it does not have the capacity to remove the president as would a legislature in many countries.
    Nonetheless, the opposition has promised to keep up pressure.
    “The transition has begun,” Juan Guaido, head of the opposition-run legislature, via Twitter on Friday.
    “Nicolas Maduro is totally illegitimate!
    On Thursday, Guaido called on the country’s military to step forward and disavow Maduro.    But Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino and the country’s top military commanders feted Maduro in a ceremony immediately after his swearing-in at which they pledged loyalty.
    Maduro’s critics accuse him of creating a dictatorship and destroying the economy.    Venezuela is experiencing the worst economic crisis in its history, with inflation headed toward 2 million percent and some three million people having left the country amid chronic shortages of basic food and medicines.
    Maduro says the country is victim of an “economic war” led by his political adversaries with the help of Washington.
    Opposition efforts to remove Maduro have foundered.    The pro-government elections council stymied a 2016 effort to trigger a recall referendum on the president’s rule.    More than 120 people were killed in four months of street protests in 2017 that eventually fizzled. (Reporting by Corina Pons and Vivian Sequera; Editing by Frances Kerry)

1/11/2019 Macedonia parliament agrees to change country’s name by Kole Casule
FILE PHOTO: Macedonian police stand guard near the parliament building
in Skopje, Macedonia, April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski/File Photo
    SKOPJE (Reuters) – Macedonia’s parliament passed an amendment to the constitution on Friday to rename the country Republic of North Macedonia, in line with an agreement with Greece to put an end to a 27-year-old dispute.
    The countries struck the deal on the new name in June, but Macedonia will start using it only after the parliament in Athens also ratifies the agreement.
    Eighty-one deputies in the 120-seat parliament voted in favor.    Representatives of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE, who opposed the agreement with Greece, boycotted the vote.
    “A new historical chapter in our statehood has been written this evening,” the Macedonian government said in a statement.
    “It makes absolutely plausible two of our biggest state interests – membership in NATO and EU,” it said.    Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras called his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev to congratulate him, his office said in a written statement.
    Greece blocked its neighbor’s aspirations to EU and NATO membership over the use of ‘Macedonia’, which it said implied territorial claims to a Greek province of the same name.
    The implementation of the agreement, named after the bordering town of Prespa where it was signed, is intended to end the dispute.
    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and EU commissioner in charge of enlargement Johannes Hahn hailed the vote.
    “NATO strongly supports the full implementation of the agreement, which is an important contribution to a stable and prosperous region,” Stoltenberg wrote on his twitter account.
    “My sincerest congratulations to political actors and citizens of the hopefully soon to be North Macedonia on Parliament’s vote on the constitutional changes,” Hahn tweeted.
    “(I) hope that this historic decision creates a positive dynamic for reconciliation in the whole Western Balkan region,” Hahn said.
    Several hundred people have protested against the deal in front of parliament over the past three days.
    Macedonian opposition parties and nationalists say changing the name of the country and national symbols is too high price to pay for NATO accession.
    The opposition VMRO-DPMNE party has asked for an early election.
    “The vote on constitutional amendments that changed the name, identity, history and culture was done against the constitution.    It was illegal, violent and done in a criminal way,” Hristijan Mickoski told journalists after the vote.
(Reporting by Kole Casule; Additional reporting by Lefteris Papadimas in Athens and Robin Emmot in Brussels; writing by Ivana Sekularac; editing by John Stonestreet)

1/11/2019 Greek police fire teargas at protesting teachers in Athens
A Greek Presidential Guard returning to his barracks following his sentry duty, stands in front of riot police officers
blocking the road leading to the Prime Minister's office during a demonstration of Greek school teachers against
government plans to change hiring procedures in the public sector in Athens, Greece, January 11, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
    ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek police on Friday fired teargas to disperse hundreds of teachers protesting against government plans to change hiring procedures in the public sector.
    About 2,000 protesters, most of them with the Communist affiliated group PAME, marched through central Athens waving red flags and chanting slogans against an education ministry bill currently under public consultation.
    They unfurled a banner reading: “Take the monstrous bill back.”
    Police clashed with some of the protesters outside parliament and fired teargas at a group that tried to reach the prime minister’s office.
    Greece froze hirings in the public sector during its protracted debt crisis which began in late 2009.    The country’s third international bailout since 2010 expired in August.
    Teachers’ unions say state schools are under-staffed and are demanding the creation of more permanent jobs for teachers.
(Reporting by Alkis Konstantinidis and Costas Baltas; Writing by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Gareth Jones)

1/11/2019 Macron hopes debate can quell French unrest. So did Louis XVI by Emilie Delwarde and Richard Lough
FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he poses for a photograph after the
recording of his New Year's speech at at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France December 31, 2018. Michel Euler/Pool via REUTERS
    PARIS/FLAGY, France (Reuters) – In 1789, Louis XVI summoned France’s aristocracy, clergy and citizens to discuss ways to plug the crown’s dismal finances and quell popular discontent over a sclerotic feudal society.
    It marked the start of the French Revolution.    Within months he was powerless and four years later beheaded by guillotine.
    Two centuries on, President Emmanuel Macron, often criticized for a monarchical manner, is also calling a national debate to mollify “yellow vest” protesters whose nine week uprising has set Paris ablaze and shaken his administration.
    He will launch the three-month “grand debat” initiative on Jan. 15.    As during the rule of the ill-fated king, the French are already writing complaints in “grievance books” opened up by mayors of 5,000 communes.
    The debate will focus on four themes — taxes, green energy, institutional reform and citizenship.    Discussions will be held on the internet and in town halls.    But officials have already said changing the course of Macron’s reforms aimed at liberalizing the economy will be off limits.
    “The debates are not an opportunity for people to offload all their frustrations, nor are we questioning what we’ve done in the past 18 months,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told BFM TV.    “We’re not replaying the election.”
    By limiting the terms, Macron risks making the same mistake that doomed the monarchy, historian Stephane Sirot of University of Cergy-Pontoise told Le Parisien newspaper.
    “Emmanuel Macron is like Louis XVI who … receives the grievance books but doesn’t understand anything from them.”
    In Flagy, 100 kilometers south of Paris, the village mayor has been receiving written grievances from local “i>yellow vests” like Agosthino Bareto.    The 65-year-old garage owner is convinced the government will frame the debate to suit itself.
    “All that we’ve been saying is like dust thrown into the wind,” Bareto said.    “We’re not being listened to.”
    Flagy’s mayor, Jacques Drouhin, is sympathetic toward such frustrations.    He says he will refuse to hold a town hall debate as long as Macron plans to press on with reforms regardless.
    “That’s not what our citizens are asking for,” Drouhin said.    “That’s enough.    It’s now down to our leaders to listen to what’s been said in the grievance books.”
    Weak participation would undermine the exercise.    An Elabe opinion poll on Wednesday showed only 40 percent of citizens intend to take part in the debate.
    France is bracing for more street protests and possible riots when winter sales kick off this Saturday.    Yet even as the demonstrations rumble on, it remains unclear whether the “yellow vests” will emerge as a political force or fizzle away, undone by their own internal differences.
    The leader of Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, Luigi di Maio, this week publicly backed the French protesters, offering his party’s internet platform for direct democracy — known as “Rousseau” after a leading thinker of the French Enlightenment — to help the “yellow vests” define a program.
    While leaderless, the “yellow vests” mirror movements like Spain’s Indignados and Italy’s 5-Star, which have sought to upend Europe’s traditional political system.
    “I am more worried now about the ‘yellow vest’ protests in France (than Italy),” Karen Ward, chief market strategist for EMEA at JP Morgan Asset Management, told an media briefing.
    The “yellow vests” take their name from the high-visibility jackets they wear at road barricades and on the street.    Their rage stems from a squeeze on household incomes and a belief that Macron, a former investment banker regarded as close to big business, is indifferent to their hardships.
    Macron will take heart from a sharp fall in public support for the protesters over the past month.    He promises to use the debates to channel their anger and shape new policy via a more participatory democracy.
    The “yellow vests” are demanding the right to call referendums through mass petitions.    Senior cabinet ministers have not rejected the idea — Prime Minister Edouard Philippe called citizen-initiated referendums a “useful tool in a democracy” — but said their use should be limited.
    More likely is an idea touted within the ruling party and government for the national debate to be followed by a referendum with several questions, rather than a thumbs up or thumbs down vote.
    “The government is aware of the risks of making any vote a vote about Macron and not the issues,” said Antonio Barroso, deputy director of research at risk advisory firm Teneo.    “So you solve that by asking multiple questions.”
(Reporting by Richard Lough in Paris and Emilie Delwarde in Flagy; Additional reporting by Michel Rose in Paris and Julien Ponthus in London; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Luke Baker and Peter Graff)
[I haven't seen a good guillotining in a while.].

1/11/2019 Vice President Pence expresses appreciation to U.S. border patrol, pledges ongoing support by OAN Newsroom
    Vice President Mike Pence offered words of thanks and encouragement to the officers of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agency for their work after attending a briefing on border security.
    While speaking at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Friday, Pence recognized the risks the officers face, and expressed appreciation for the sacrifices they make during the course of their jobs.
    Pence said the White House and Congress are taking steps to mitigate the effects of the partial government shutdown, and offered assurances of the administration’s support.
Vice President Mike Pence greets U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees at
their headquarters in Washington, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    “The president wanted me to communicate to each and every one of you…we’re going to get you the support that you need, we’re going to build that wall, we’re going to get the resources that you need to secure our border, one way or another,” said the vice president.    "That’s our pledge to each and every one of you, we owe you nothing less and more importantly we owe the American people nothing less.”
    Pence called on lawmakers on Capitol Hill for their assistance in order to address the situation at the southern border.    He described it as a humanitarian crisis, and insisted this requires action from Congress.

1/12/2019 Oil down $1.00 to $51.59, DOW down 6 to 23,996

1/12/2019 Partial government shutdown enters day 22, longest federal closure in U.S. history by OAN Newsroom
    It is officially the longest federal shut down in U.S. history, as the White House and Congress continue to be at an impasse over border security.
    Congress has adjourned until Monday, and there are no signs of a compromise spending deal coming anytime soon.
The Capitol is seen at dawn on the 21st day of a partial government shutdown as an
impasse continues between President Donald Trump and Democrats over funding his promised wall
on the U.S.-Mexico border, in Washington, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    President Trump said he’s holding off for now on declaring a national emergency over the border, and is calling on Democrats to make a deal to end the shutdown.
    In a tweet Saturday, the president said “Democrats should come back to Washington and work to end the shutdown” and the “horrible humanitarian crisis” at our southern border.
    Trump tweet: “Democrats should come back to Washington and work to end the Shutdown, while at the same time ending the horrible humanitarian crisis at our Southern Border. I am in the White House waiting for you!
    He also said “Democrats could solve the shutdown in 15 minutes,” asking voters to call their Democrat senators, and congressional representatives to get it done.
    Trump tweet: “Democrats could solve the Shutdown in 15 minutes! Call your Dem Senator or Congresswoman/man. Tell them to get it done! Humanitarian Crisis.”
    At the White House Friday, the president said declaring an emergency was still on the table, but added it’s the “easy way out.”
    He went on to say the decision to reopen the government largely falls on Congress.
    GOP lawmakers including, Senator Lindsey Graham slammed the left, with Graham taking to Twitter, stating “it’s clear, that Democrats don’t want to make a deal and will never support a border wall or barriers.”
    The president has said that any deal put on the table must include funding for the border wall.
    Lindsey Graham tweet: “Just met with President @realDonaldTrump and his team. It’s clear to both of us that Democrats don’t want to make a deal and will never support border wall/barriers.”

1/12/2019 Renewed yellow vest protests hit with police water cannon, tear gas in Paris
Protesters wearing yellow vests take part in a demonstration by the "yellow vests"
movement near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, January 12, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
    PARIS (Reuters) – Paris police fired water cannon and tear gas to repel “yellow vest” demonstrators from around the Arc de Triomphe monument on Saturday in ninth straight weekend of protests against French President Emmanuel Macron’s economic reforms.
    Thousands of protesters also marched noisily but peacefully through the Grands Boulevards shopping area in northern Paris close to where a major gas explosion in a bakery killed two firefighters and injured nearly 50 people early on Saturday.
    Central Paris was in lockdown against another feared eruption of violence by radical elements in the “gilets jaunes” (yellow vest) movement, with bridges across the Seine river closed and official buildings such as parliament and the Elysee presidential palace protected by police barriers.
    Groups of protesters also gathered on and around Paris’s famous Champs Elysees boulevard, the scene of disturbances in recent weeks, many of them calling loudly for Macron to resign.
    “Macron, we are going to tear down your place!” one banner read.
    Around the 19th-century Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs Elysee, riot police unleashed water cannon and tear gas at militant yellow-vest protesters after being pelted with stones and paint, witnesses said.
    By mid-afternoon there had been no major clashes with police unlike in previous weeks.    In Paris over 50 people were arrested, some for carrying objects that could be used as weapons.
    There were also thousands of marchers in the cities of Bordeaux and Toulon in southern France as well as Strasbourg in the east and the central city of Bourges.
    Bourges authorities said nearly 5,000 yellow vests stuck to the designated demonstration area but another 500 had pushed into the city center that was off-limits for demonstrators.
    Many businesses in Bourges had boarded themselves up to avoid damage from protesters and authorities had removed street furniture and building site materials that could be used for barricades.
    In Strasbourg, up to 2,000 demonstrators gathered in front of the European Parliament building and later marched to the center of the city on the Rhine river border with Germany.    Protesters set garbage bins ablaze and police fired a few tear gas grenades, but no serious violence or looting was reported.
    More than 80,000 police were on duty for the protests nationwide, including 5,000 in Paris.
    The “yellow vests” take their name from the high-visibility jackets they wear at road barricades and on the street.    Their rage stems from a squeeze on household incomes and a belief that Macron, a former investment banker regarded as close to big business, is indifferent to their hardships.
    Macron, often criticized for a monarchical manner, is to launch a national debate on Jan. 15 to try to mollify the yellow vest protesters, whose unrest has shaken his administration.
    The debate, to be held on the internet and in town halls, will focus on four themes – taxes, green energy, institutional reform and citizenship. But aides to Macron have said changing the course of Macron’s reforms aimed at liberalizing the economy will be off limits.
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq, Caroline Pailliez, Antony Paone and Emmanuel Jarry in Paris, Claude Canellas in Bordeaux, Mourad Guichard in Bourges and Gilbert Reilhac in Strasbourg)

1/12/2019 Two dead in Paris gas blast amid lockdown for yellow-vest protests by Lucien Libert and Geert De Clercq
Firemen work at the site of an explosion in a bakery shop in the 9th District
in Paris, France, January 12, 2019 REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
    PARIS (Reuters) – Two firefighters died and nearly people 50 were injured in a massive gas explosion that gutted the ground floor of a building in a central Paris shopping district on Saturday, authorities said.
    The accident occurred with Paris under security lockdown for a ninth consecutive Saturday of “yellow vest” protests, with large parts of the French capital blocked off by riot police.
    “As firemen were looking for a gas leak in the building, a dramatic explosion took place,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said, adding that one of the firemen had been buried under debris for several hours.
    Castaner said on his Twitter feed that two firefighters had died, and that 10 people, including one firefighter, had serious injuries.    Another 37 people had lighter injuries, he said.    Earlier he had told reporters that two civilians had also died.
    Just hours after the blast, thousands of yellow vest protesters marched noisily but peacefully through the Grands Boulevards shopping district of northern Paris, just a few hundred yards from the scene of the explosion.
    In recent years, France has suffered a string of deadly Islamist militant attacks in Paris, Nice, Marseille and elsewhere but authorities quickly ruled out foul play.
    “A this stage we can say it (the gas blast) is clearly an accident,” Paris prosecutor Remi Heitz told reporters.
    A police source said the explosion tore apart a bakery on the rue Trevise and witnesses said the force of the blast shattered nearby storefronts and rocked buildings hundreds of meters away.
    More than 200 firefighters joined the rescue operation and two helicopters landed on the nearby Place de l’Opera to evacuate victims.    Ambulances struggled to access the blast area because of police barriers set up to contain any violence by yellow vest protesters.
    An eyewitness at a hotel nearby said he saw flames envelop the ground floor of the building blown out by the blast.
    “There was broken glass everywhere, storefronts were blown out and windows were shattered up to the third and fourth floors,” said 38-year-old David Bangura.
    He said that as he approached the scene, a woman was crying for help from the first floor of a building: “Help us, help us, we have a child.”
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq, Caroline Paillez, Emmanuel Jarry and Benoit Tessier; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Ros Russell)

1/12/2019 Greek prosecutor orders probe into alleged threats over Macedonia name deal
Supporters of the movement boycotting the deal with neighboring Greece to change the country's name to the
Republic of North Macedonia protest in front of the parliament building during parliamentary debates on
constitutional amendments related to the name change, in Skopje, Macedonia January 11, 2019. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski
    ATHENS (Reuters) – A Greek prosecutor on Saturday ordered an investigation into alleged threats to lawmakers over a name deal with Greece’s neighbor Macedonia, a judicial source said.
    Macedonia’s parliament on Friday passed an amendment to the constitution to rename the country Republic of North Macedonia, in line with an agreement with Greece to put an end to a 27-year-old dispute.
    Many Greeks are irked that their Balkan neighbor is assuming a name linked to Greek heritage and identical to a northern region of Greece.
    The countries struck the deal in June, but Macedonia will start using the new name only after the parliament in Athens also ratifies the agreement.    A vote is expected later this month.
    The order for a preliminary investigation came after two Greek news websites reported that lawmakers had received threatening text messages to vote against the deal, the source said.
    The probe will seek to determine whether there has been a violation of personal data and inducement to commit a crime, the source added.
    The Macedonia accord has strained relations between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his junior coalition partner Panos Kammenos.
    Kammenos, defense minister and head of the right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL) has vowed to reject the deal but at least one of his deputies has said publicly he will support it.    It is unclear how other ANEL lawmakers will vote.
    The left-right governing coalition has a razor-thin majority with 153 seats in the 300 member parliament.    Seven of those seats belong to ANEL.
    The main opposition New Democracy party has said it will block the deal.    The government hopes the deal will pass with the support of center-left and independent lawmakers.
(Reporting by Constantinos Georgizas and Angeliki Koutantou. Editing by Ros Russell)
[Macedonia, officially the Republic of Macedonia, is a country in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe.    It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991.].

1/12/2019 Pompeo says Venezuela’s Maduro government is ‘illegitimate’
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo looks on after speaking to students
at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, January 10, 2019. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via REUTERS
    ABU DHABI (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described Venezuela’s government under President Nicolas Maduro as illegitimate on Saturday and said the United States would work with like-minded countries in Latin America to restore democracy there.
    “The Maduro regime is illegitimate and the United States will work diligently to restore a real democracy to that country,” Pompeo told reporters in Abu Dhabi, where he is on a tour of Middle East countries.
    “We are very hopeful we can be a force for good to allow the region to come together to deliver that.”
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

1/12/2019 Caravan forming in Honduras, could be larger than previous attempt by OAN Newsroom
    Another migrant caravan is reportedly forming in Honduras.
    The caravan’s organizers plan to leave for the U.S. sometime next week, and they are using social media as a way to spread the word.
    Mexico is already sending hundreds of additional law enforcement agents to its southern border, in anticipation of the caravan.
Honduran migrants walk toward the United States in Chiquimula, Guatemala, on Wednesday.
A migrant caravan set out on Oct. 13 from the impoverished, violence-plagued country and was headed north on the
long journey through Guatemala and Mexico to the U.S. border.Orlando Estrada / AFP – Getty Images
    Mexican officials said migrants who apply for visas will be allowed into the country legally, but that anyone who tries to cross the border unlawfully will be apprehended.
    Word of the caravan has reached the U.S. as well, with President Trump saying this is another example of why Democrats need to provide border wall funding.A caravan is forming right now in Honduras,” said President Trump.    “It’s supposed to be bigger than the other caravans.    We will handle that as it comes up.    If we had a wall, we wouldn’t have any problems.    But we don’t, so we will handle it.”
    If the caravan departs as scheduled next week, the migrants could begin arriving as early as mid February.

1/12/2019 U.S. airports fear rising turmoil as personnel work without pay by OAN Newsroom
    Airports across the country begin feeling the effects of the partial shutdown.
    On Saturday, Miami’s International Airport closes one of it’s terminals due to security screeners calling in sick at twice the airport’s normal rate.
    An airport spokesman said Terminal G would close at 1 p.m. local time, and will reopen for flights Sunday morning, and then close again that afternoon.
A Transportation Security Administration officer works at the entrance to Concourse G at Miami International Airport,
Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, in Miami. The airport is closing Terminal G this weekend as the federal government shutdown stretches toward
a fourth week because security screeners have been calling in sick at twice the airport’s normal rate. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
    Reports said Terminal G is the slowest running concourse, making up 3% of the daily flights.
    Nationwide, there are about 51,000 airport security agents who have been working without pay since the shutdown started December 22nd.
    This week, air traffic controllers protested, calling for an end to the shutdown.     “As this continues to go on the layers of safety are being reduced into our airspace system for no reason whatsoever,” said Paul Rinaldi, The President of National Air Traffic Control Association.    “We don’t want to be in this tug of war.    We want to run the safest system in the world – end the shutdown, end shutdown.”
    On Friday, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association filed a lawsuit against the government, saying the shutdown has devastated the lives of workers, and impacted the safety of passengers.
    It also states it is illegal to make people work without pay.

1/12/2019 Brazil president says he wants free trade with ‘the entire world’
FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends a ceremony at the
Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo
    SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro wants “bilateral trade with the entire world without an ideological bias,” he said on Twitter on Saturday ahead of the Davos World Economic Forum later this month.
    Latin America’s largest economy is also one of the world’s most restrictive.    The Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank, last year ranked Brazil 153 out of 180 countries in its Index of Economic Freedom.
(Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun, editing by G Crosse)

1/12/2019 Pres. Trump lists border statistics, asks Democrats to come back to the table by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump is reaffirming the need for enhanced border security and immigration policy reform.
    On Twitter Saturday, the president said 23% of federal inmates are illegal immigrants.
President Donald Trump speaks as he tours the U.S. border with Mexico at the Rio Grande on the
southern border, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in McAllen, Texas, as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, listens at right. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    Trump tweet: “23% of Federal inmates are illegal immigrants. Border arrests are up 240%. In the Great State of Texas, between 2011 & 2018, there were a total of 292,000 crimes by illegal aliens, 539 murders, 32,000 assaults, 3,426 sexual assaults and 3000 weapons charges. Democrats come back!
    The president went on to quote other statistics,including the more than 290,000 crimes committed by illegal immigrants in the state of Texas over the last seven years.
    He then went on to ask Democrats to come back to the negotiating table.    His remarks come as lawmakers on the left have so-far refused to support funding of the border barrier, as a condition of ending the partial government shutdown.
    President Trump also released a video on Twitter Saturday, laying out his case for border security.

1/12/2019 White House pushing for H1B visas by OAN Newsroom
    The Trump administration is making a push to promote a potential path to citizenship for high-skilled foreign workers.     In a tweet on Friday, the president focused his attention to hundreds of thousands of workers living in the country on H1B visas.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that H1B visa application process
    More than 100,000 workers are brought to the on the visas each year, and are allowed to stay for up to six years.
    The latest plan offers a pathway to citizenship for those in Silicon Valley, who are working for major tech companies.
    However, there are concerns about the effects it could have on American workers.
    Every year, more than 85,000 Americans potentially lose their jobs to foreign labor through H1B visas.

1/13/2019 Hundreds inspired by yellow vest movement rally in London
    Hundreds of protesters inspired by France’s yellow vest movement rallied Saturday in Britain, drawing attention to government austerity programs that have hit the poor hard.
    Wearing yellow vests with slogans such as “Britain is Broken” written on the back, the demonstrators marched in London to demand that politicians pay attention to their plight rather than being endlessly diverted by the spectacle surrounding Britain’s departure from the European Union.
    They also wanted to show solidarity with protesters who returned to the streets of Paris again Saturday.

1/13/2019 Wall donations to be refunded or shifted to nonprofit effort
    A Florida man said the 339,000 people who contributed more than $20 million online to help build a wall along the southern U.S. border can get refunds or shift their support to a new nonprofit effort.
    Air Force veteran and triple amputee Brian Kolfage, 37, said on the Go-FundMe page he started in December that segments of the wall would be privately constructed.    Kolfage said his group is identifying areas that are frequently crossed; looking into wall solutions based on terrain, environment and other issues; and asking landowners if they would provide free or lowcost easements for its construction.

1/13/2019 Trump on Comey: ‘Total sleaze’ - News of FBI investigation of president fuels attack by Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY
    President Donald Trump, in response to reports that the FBI began an investigation of him last year to find out whether he had a clandestine agenda to help Russia, said Saturday that former FBI Director James Comey and other “losers” at the bureau “tried to do a number on your President.”
    He called Comey a “total sleaze” and “crooked cop.”    The president also took swipes at special counsel Robert Mueller and The New York Times, which broke the story Friday night.    “My firing of James Comey was a great day for America,” he tweeted.
    Comey responded Saturday morning in a tweet that quoted President Franklin D. Roosevelt: “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”
    The newspaper said the decision to investigate Trump himself was an aggressive move by FBI officials confronting the chaotic aftermath of the firing of Comey and enduring the president’s verbal assaults on the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt.”
    CNN reported that counterintelligence agents were investigating why Trump was acting in ways that seemed to benefit Russia.
    Both news organizations said Trump’s firing of Comey was a major factor prompting the FBI to take action.
    Although the report was published Friday night and prompted a sharp response from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, Trump did not weigh in until 7:05 a.m Saturday.
    “Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!"
    In a series of tweets, he said the FBI was in “complete turmoil” at the time because of Comey’s “poor leadership” and his handling of an investigation of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
    “My firing of James Comey was a great day for America,” Trump tweeted.    “He was a Crooked Cop who is being totally protected by his best friend, Bob Mueller, & the 13 Angry Democrats ...
    He singled out several FBI agents in his five-part tweetstorm.
    “Lyin’ James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter S and his lover, agent Lisa Page, & more, all disgraced and/or fired and caught in the act.    These are just some of the losers that tried to do a number on your President,” he tweeted.    “Part of the Witch Hunt.    Remember the ‘insurance policy?’ This is it!.”
    Trump was referring to charges that some FBI agents, among them McCabe, Peter Strzok and Page, a colleague Strzok was intimately involved with, were part of a conspiracy to undermine the president.
    Addressing the Russia aspect of the Times report, Trump said he had been “FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton.    Maybe tougher than any other President.”
    He repeated his long-held contention that “getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing.” Sanders said in her statement.
    Friday night that Comey was fired for just cause and that Trump has never favored Russia.
    “This is absurd.    James Comey was fired because he’s a disgraced partisan hack, and his Deputy Andrew McCabe, who was in charge at the time, is a known liar fired by the FBI.    Unlike President Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russia.”
    The obstruction probe was an idea the FBI had previously considered, but it didn’t start until Comey was fired, CNN reported.    The justification went beyond Trump’s firing of Comey, CNN said, according to its sources, and included the president’s conversation with Comey in the Oval Office asking him to drop the investigation into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
    Trump insisted last year that he didn’t fire Comey because of the Russia investigation, despite video and documentary evidence to the contrary, including an interview with NBC News.
    “I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it,” he told NBC anchor Lester Holt.    “And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.    It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”
    “Not that it matters but I never fired James Comey because of Russia!” Trump tweeted shortly after the firing.    “The Corrupt Mainstream Media loves to keep pushing that narrative, but they know it is not true!
    The FBI director’s firing is central to an obstruction of justice investigation being conducted by Mueller, who is also looking into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election ito help Trump.
    “He was a Crooked Cop who is being totally protected by his best friend, Bob Mueller, & the 13 Angry Democrats ...” President Donald Trump, on James Comey.
The president’s firing of the FBI director prompted the inquiry. AFP/GETTY IMAGES

1/13/2019 Pres. Trump Calls New York Times Piece on him Working For Russia “Most Insulting by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump blasts the New York Times following their recent report that the FBI investigated if he was working on behalf of Russia.
    In a phone interview Saturday night, the President was asked if he ever worked for Russia after the Times reported the FBI started the probe following the firing of James Comey.
President Donald Trump listens as he leads a roundtable discussion on border security with
local leaders, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    President Trump said the question was the most insulting thing he’s ever been asked and proceeded to slam fired officials from the bureau who led the initial investigation.
    The interview comes as the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee intends to investigate the claims made in the New York Times report.
[The Dems are getting desperate as they leak fake news to the New York Times just so they can investigate it.].

1/13/2019 White House asked for options to strike Iran: WSJ
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton speaks during
a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 27, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House’s national security team last fall asked the Pentagon to provide it with options for striking Iran after a group of militants aligned with Tehran fired mortars into an area in Baghdad that is home to the U.S. Embassy, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
    The request by the National Security Council, which is led by John Bolton, sparked deep concern among Pentagon and State Department officials, the newspaper reported, citing current and former U.S. officials.
    The Pentagon complied with the request, but it is not known whether the options for an Iran strike were also provided to the White House or if President Donald Trump knew about it.
    The decision to seek options striking Iran was prompted by an incident in September in which three mortars were fired into a diplomatic quarter in Baghdad, the newspaper said.    The shells landed in an open lot and no one was hurt.    Two days later, unidentified militants fired three rockets that hit close to the U.S. consulate in the southern city of Basra but caused no serious damage.
    The State Department and Pentagon did not comment on the report.
    NSC spokesman Garrett Marquis, said in a statement on Sunday: “The NSC coordinates policy and provides the president with options to anticipate and respond to a variety of threats” and that it will continue to consider “the full range of options” after the attacks.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

1/13/2019 French media denounce violent ‘yellow vest’ attacks on press by Geert De Clercq and Julie Carriat
FILE PHOTO: Protesters take part in a demonstration of the "yellow vests" movement
in Marseille, France, January 12, 2019. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
    PARIS (Reuters) – French media and reporters’ organizations on Sunday denounced attacks on journalists by “yellow vest” anti-government protesters and called for better protection after a series of incidents this weekend.
    Paris police fired water cannon and tear gas to push back demonstrators from around the Arc de Triomphe monument on Saturday, in the ninth straight weekend of protests against French President Emmanuel Macron’s economic reforms.
    Journalists covering the protests are increasingly becoming a target for the demonstrators.
    In the western city of Rouen, LCI television reporters were attacked by a group of protesters.    One of the security agents working with the TV crew was beaten while he was on the ground and had his nose broken, with footage of the incident widely shared on social media.
    In Paris, an LCI reporter was pushed to the ground as demonstrators tried to take away her camera, the station said, adding that it will take legal action against the attackers.
    Several other stations, including BFM TV and franceinfo, on Sunday showed images of reporters being hassled or pushed around during Saturday’s “yellow vest” marches.
    Reporters without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire called on authorities to take action.
    “This is anti-democratic blackmail from people who consider they can beat up journalists if they disagree with the way events are covered,” he said on France Info radio.
    Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on his Twitter feed that anyone attacking reporters will be brought to justice.
    “In our democracy, the press is free … attacking journalists is attacking the right to inform,” he said.
    France has been rocked by yellow vest protests against Macron’s reforms since the middle of November in a movement that has no designated leaders and is not linked to political parties or unions.
Started as a protest against high fuel prices, the movement has morphed into a fight for social justice and more direct democracy. Several demonstrations have degenerated into violent clashes with police. Over the coming week, Macron will launch three months of national debate to air yellow-vest grievances in the hope of appeasing the movement, which has undermined his authority and upended his reform drive. (Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Keith Weir)
[The reason it has no designated leaders and is not linked to political parties or unions is because the 'thugs' are the down trodden people of France trying to get your attention, which seems to be waning again.].

1/13/2019 Ahead of vote, UK PM May warns it would be catastrophic to halt Brexit by Kylie MacLellan
Britain's opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain's Liberal Democrats Vince Cable
and Britain's Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay appear on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show,
in London, Britain January 13, 2019. Jeff Overs/BBC/Handout via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May warned lawmakers on Sunday that failing to deliver Brexit would be catastrophic for democracy, in a plea for support two days before parliament is expected to reject her deal with Brussels.
    With the clock ticking down to its March 29 exit from the European Union and parliament deadlocked, Britain faces a hugely uncertain path that could lead to a disorderly exit or even remaining in the bloc.
    May, who postponed a vote in parliament on her deal in December after admitting she was set to lose it, said lawmakers must not let down the people who backed Brexit in a June 2016 referendum.
    “Doing so would be a catastrophic and unforgivable breach of trust in our democracy,” she wrote in the Sunday Express.
    “So my message to Parliament this weekend is simple: it is time to forget the games and do what is right for our country.”
    May has so far refused to retreat from her unpopular deal, which envisages close trading ties with the EU, but without any say on policy as Britain has now.    The vexed Brexit issue represents Britain’s biggest shift in foreign and trade policy in more than 40 years.
    May’s deal has come under fire from all sides — with opponents of the EU seeking a cleaner break and many pro-Europeans pressing for a second referendum.    May is expected to suffer a big defeat when parliament votes on Tuesday.
    Brexit minister Stephen Barclay told BBC TV that persuading enough lawmakers to support the deal would be “challenging” but that even if it was rejected, he suspected parliament would ultimately support something “along the lines of this deal.”
    Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said leaving the EU without a deal would be catastrophic and his party would do everything it could to prevent that outcome.
    However, Corbyn’s priority is to force a national election and he said he would propose a vote of confidence in the government “soon” if May loses on Tuesday.
    The Observer newspaper reported that military planners had been sent into several government departments to help with preparations for a no deal Brexit.
    After a week in which parliament forced the government to promise to come back with a ‘plan B’ within days if May’s deal is rejected, Barclay said the risk of parliament acting in a way that frustrates Brexit had increased.
    The Sunday Times reported that rebel lawmakers were planning to wrest control of the legislative agenda away from May next week with a view to suspending or delaying Brexit, citing a senior government source.
    Vince Cable, the leader of the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, said parliament would act to prevent a no deal Brexit, and could ultimately seek to prevent Brexit altogether.
    “I think parliament will take control of this process, will insist that we pursue the option of no Brexit,” he told BBC TV.
    Cable said this could be done by revoking Article 50, the mechanism which triggered the exit process, or by holding a second referendum.
    Former Conservative prime minister John Major wrote in the Sunday Times that the government itself should revoke Article 50 and ask parliament to consult on the options before calling another referendum.
    Asked about the prospect of another referendum, Labour leader Corbyn told BBC TV:
    “My own view is that I would rather get a negotiated deal now, if we can, to stop the danger of a no-deal exit from the EU on the 29th of March which would be catastrophic for industry, catastrophic for trade.”
    Corbyn said that if he forced a national election and his party won, Brexit may have to be delayed while they negotiated a new deal with the EU.
    “An election would take place what February-March time, clearly there is only a few weeks then between that and the leave date, there would have to be a time for those negotiations,” he added.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Keith Weir)

1/13/2019 Venezuela intelligence agents release opposition leader Guaido – official by Mayela Armas
FILE PHOTO: Juan Guaido, President of the Venezuelan National Assembly and lawmaker
of the opposition party Popular Will (Voluntad Popular), speaks during a news conference
in Caracas, Venezuela January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
    CARABALLEDA, Venezuela (Reuters) – Venezuelan intelligence agents have released opposition leader and congress chief Juan Guaido after briefly detaining him on the way to a political rally, a congressional official said on Sunday.
    Guaido on Friday said he was willing to assume the presidency after the opposition declared President Nicolas Maduro’s second term to be illegitimate.
    Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
    Maduro was sworn in to a second term on Thursday, defying critics in the United States and Latin America who called him an illegitimate usurper of a nation where economic chaos has wrought a humanitarian crisis.
    Guaido, a lawmaker from the hardline Popular Will opposition party who was elected to head the National Assembly on Jan. 5, said on Friday he would only take office with support of the armed forces.
(Reporting by Mayela Armas; Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

1/13/2019 Sen. Graham Says Pres. Trump is ‘Not Going to Give In’ on Border Security Funding by OAN Newsroom
    Senator Lindsey Graham says President Trump is “not going to give in” on the shutdown fight over border security funding.
    During an interview Sunday, Graham said the President should open the government for a short period of time before he pulls the plug on solving the funding issue through Congress.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks to members of the media outside the West Wing of the White House
in Washington, after his meeting with President Donald Trump, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
    The South Carolina Senator says a deal regarding DACA and wall funding could be acceptable to both the White House and Democrats.
    Graham also expressed support for the President declaring a national emergency over the border security issue and urged his GOP colleagues to back him up if he does.

1/13/2019 Rep. Scalise Urges Democrats to Negotiate End to Govt Shutdown by OAN Newsroom
    House Minority Whip Steve Scalise calls on Democrats in congress to come to the table to negotiate an end to the government shutdown.
    During an interview on Sunday, the Louisiana congressman said the President has a detailed plan to end the shutdown and has offered several proposals to the Democrats.
    He added the Democrats have not responded with offers of their own.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence listen as House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of La.,
speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House after a meeting with Congressional leaders
on border security, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    Scalise also addressed the possibility of President Trump declaring a national emergency in order to build a wall on the southern border.
    Although he said the President has the authority to do this, he noted the ultimate plan is for congress to solve the border security problem.

1/13/2019 With 2,300-word letter, Macron launches debate to quell ‘yellow vest’ unrest
FILE PHOTO - French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a traditional epiphany
cake ceremony at the Elysee palace in Paris, France, January 11, 2019. Ian Langsdon/Pool via REUTERS
    PARIS (Reuters) – President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday kicked off a three-month national debate he hopes can quell the “yellow vest” unrest with a letter to the French in which he pledged to listen to new ideas but stuck to his core economic reform agenda.
    Macron’s initiative comes after nine weeks of protests by the “yellow vests” — named after the high-visibility jackets they wear.    The disparate anti-government uprising has wreaked havoc in Paris and French cities, shaken the economy and challenged his authority.
    “For me, there is no banned issue.    We won’t agree on everything, which is normal in a democracy.    But at least we’ll show we’re a people which is not afraid of talking, exchanging, debating,” Macron wrote in the letter published by his office.
    But Macron said he would remain faithful to his campaign manifesto, and appeared to rule out rolling back some of the pro-business economic reforms, such as scrapping a wealth tax, which have earned him the nickname “president of the rich.”
    “When taxes are too high, our economy is starved of the resources that could be usefully invested in companies, creating jobs and growth,” Macron wrote.
    “We will not undo the measures we have introduced to put this right, encourage investment and ensure that work pays more.”
    In the 2,330-word letter, to be published in French newspapers, he also asked a series of questions he hoped the French will answer in town hall meetings across the country or in online questionnaires.
    Below are some of the questions Macron asked:
– Which taxes do you think we should cut?
– What kind of public spending savings do you think we should make a priority?
– Are there too many administrative layers?
– Should we use referendums more often and who should be able to trigger them?
    Macron said proposals made during the debate will help build a new “contract for the nation” and influence government policy-making and France’s stance on European and international issues.
    He said he would give his own conclusions within a month of the end of the debate on March 15, but did not mention a possible referendum on his policies, an idea floated privately by some in his administration.
    “This is how I intend to turn anger into solutions,” he said.
(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Catherine Evans)

1/13/2019 France’s Le Pen launches EU campaign with appeal to ‘yellow vests’ by Geert De Clercq
French far-right National Rally (Rassemblement National) party leader Marine Le Pen delivers
her speech as she launches her campaign for the European elections in Paris, France, January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
    PARIS (Reuters) – French far-right leader Marine Le Pen launched her campaign for the May 26 European Parliament election on Sunday with an appeal to the broad “yellow vest” protest movement that has rattled the government.
    Le Pen urged the tens of thousands of protesters who have staged weekly protests against President Emmanuel Macron since November to make the EU vote a referendum on his policies.
    “In the context of the healthy popular revolt of the yellow vests, this election offers a chance to end this crisis born of the intransigence and contempt … of an incompetent president whose behavior is disturbing,” Le Pen told an election rally for her National Rally (“Rassemblement National”) party.
    Born from a grassroots protest against high fuel prices, the yellow vests have become a broad and sometimes violent movement demanding more social justice for low-skilled workers left behind by globalisation, deregulation and EU integration.
    Although independent of parties and unions, the movement shares many of the RN’s demands: proportional representation in parliament, direct democracy through Swiss-style referendums, less European integration and – above all – Macron’s resignation.
    “If Macron does not have the wisdom to go back to the people by dissolving parliament, then let the political arbitrage come from European elections,” said Le Pen, as her supporters repeatedly shouted “Macron, demission!” (“Macron, resignation!”).
    Both Le Pen and far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon have publicly sympathized with the yellow vests – named after the high-visibility jackets they wear – and asked for their support.
    Le Pen hopes the EU vote will advance a redrawing of France’s political map.    The process began with the first round of the 2017 presidential election, when Macron’s upstart centrist movement and her own National Front, since renamed, eliminated the traditional big parties – the conservative Les Republicains and the Socialists.
    “The battle is now between nationalists and globalists,” she said.
    Since the start of the yellow vest protests, Le Pen’s RN has gained in the polls.    A mid-December Ifop poll gave it 24 percent support against 18 percent for Macron’s LREM.
    The conservatives had 11 percent, Melenchon’s La France Insoumise (“France Unbowed”) 9 percent, the movement of former Le Pen ally Nicolas Dupont-Aignan 8 percent and the Socialists just 4.5 percent.
    Le Pen herself is not running in the European election as she wants to remain in the French parliament, and on Sunday presented 23-year-old Jordan Bardella as the NR’s leading candidate.
    “In Italy and Austria, our allies are governing,” Bardella said.    “A better tomorrow is within our grasp.”
    Macron himself will launch three months of national debate this week to air yellow-vest grievances in the hope of appeasing the movement.
    An RN supporter at Sunday’s rally, Sebastien Lefevre, told Reuters he fully supports the yellow vests as does his party.
    “And from what I understand from the polls, most of the yellow vests would vote for us,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Julie Carriat and Lucien Libert; Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

1/14/2019 Trump threatens Turkey with economic devastation if it attacks Syrian Kurd militia by Daren Butler
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump walks before speaking to the media as he returns
from Camp David to the White House in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
    ISTANBUL (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump threatened Turkey with economic devastation if it attacks a U.S.-allied Kurdish militia in Syria, weakening the Turkish lira and prompting sharp criticism from Ankara on Monday.
    Relations between the two NATO allies have been strained over U.S. backing for the Kurdish YPG, which Turkey views as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that is waging a decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil.
    A diplomatic crisis last year, when Trump imposed sanctions on two of President Tayyip Erdogan’s ministers and raised tariffs on Turkish metal exports, helped push the Turkish lira to a record low in August.
    Trump said on Sunday the United States was starting the military pullout from Syria that he announced in December but that it would continue to hit Islamic State fighters there.
    “Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms.    Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds.    Create 20 mile safe zone…Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
    The lira slid as much as 1.6 percent to 5.5450 against the dollar.
    Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Trump should respect Washington’s alliance with Ankara.
    “Mr @realDonaldTrump It is a fatal mistake to equate Syrian Kurds with the PKK, which is on the US terrorists list, and its Syria branch PYD/YPG,” spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter.
    “Terrorists can’t be your partners & allies.    Turkey expects the US to honor our strategic partnership and doesn’t want it to be shadowed by terrorist propaganda,” he said on Monday.
    Trump gave no details about the safe zone proposal.    He announced last month he would withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, declaring they had succeeded in their mission to defeat the Islamic State group and were no longer needed.
    However, U.S. officials have given mixed messages since then.    The U.S.-led coalition said on Friday it had started the pullout but officials said later it involved only equipment, not troops.
    Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara was not against the idea of a “secure zone” along the border, but added that strategic partners and allies should not communicate over social media.
    “Nothing can be achieved by threatening Turkey economically.    We need to look at how we can coordinate together and how we can solve this,” he said in a news conference with Luxembourg’s foreign minister.
    The Kurdish YPG has been a U.S. ally in the fight against the jihadists and it controls swaths of northern Syria.    Erdogan has vowed to crush it in the wake of Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of the region.
    Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said: “Turkey will continue its anti-terror fight decisively” and that it was a protector of the Kurds, not their enemy.
    “Terror is terror and it must be eradicated at its source.    This is exactly what Turkey is doing in Syria,” he wrote on Twitter.
    Turkey has swept YPG fighters from Syria’s Afrin region and other areas west of the Euphrates river in military campaigns over the past two years.    It is now threatening to strike east of the river, which it has avoided until now – partly to avoid direct confrontation with U.S. forces.
    An official from the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of militias led by the YPG, said on Sunday Islamic State militants were “living their final moments” in the last enclave they hold near the Iraqi border.
(Reporting by Daren Butler, Ali Kucukgocmen, Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

[I decided to let you know that I get my newspaper articles from the Courier Journal, locally called The Courier-Journal or The C-J or The Courier, largest news organization in Kentucky, the paper is the 48th-largest daily paper in the U.S. and the single-largest in Kentucky.    In July 1986, Gannett Company, Inc. purchased the newspaper company for $300 million and appointed George N. Gill President and Publisher.    In 1993, Gill retired and Edward E. Manassah became President and Publisher.    On December 3, 2008, it was announced that The Courier-Journal would lay off 51 employees, including 17 who voluntarily took buyout offers, as part of a larger cutback by Gannett due to financial losses.    Seven months later, the paper announced another 44 layoffs, reducing the workforce to 575 employees.    That occurred after I went to the E-edition to save money and many newspaper deliverers lost their jobs as well in the paper mill companies.
    The newspaper resumed polling on elections, and began videostreaming its editorial-board conferences with major candidates, under Publisher Arnold "Arnie" Garson, who came from the Argus Leader, Gannett's paper in Sioux Falls, S.D., in late 2008.    Garson is an outspoken promoter of the future of printed newspapers in the digital age.    Under him, the paper began keeping occasional major stories or sports columns off its website and promoting them as print exclusives.    Most of these have run on Sundays; in July 2009, Garson announced that the paper's Sunday home-delivery circulation was up 0.5 percent over the previous year.
    The reason I added this comment is I am afraid and it is highly noticeable when I read the articles now as you see below that they have been in the past few years skewed toward leftist viewpoints, and it is disturbing that I had to go to OAN, One American Newsroom, to get the other sides information, since fake news is being pushed on the normal broadcasts and news services
    I will highlight uncorraberated statements with no proof of truth in their questions only assumptions.].

1/14/2019 Trump finds Russia question ‘insulting’ - But president dodges on working for Moscow by Darlene Superville, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump avoided answering directly when asked whether he currently is or has ever worked for Russia after a published report said law enforcement officials, concerned about his behavior after he fired FBI Director James Comey in 2017, had begun investigating that possibility.
    Trump said it was the “most insulting” question he’d ever been asked.
    The New York Times report Friday cited unnamed former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.     Trump responded to the story Saturday during a telephone interview broadcast on Fox News Channel after host Jeanine Pirro, a personal friend, asked the Russia question.
    “I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked,” Trump said.    “I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written, and if you read the article you’ll see that they found absolutely nothing.”
    Trump never answered Pirro directly, but went on to assert that no president has taken a harder stance against Russia than he has.
    “If you ask the folks in Russia, I’ve been tougher on Russia than anybody else, any other ... probably any other president, period, but certainly the last three or four presidents.”
    Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee disputed that, saying almost all the sanctions on Russia arose not in the White House but in Congress.
    The Times reported that FBI agents and some top officials became suspicious of Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign but didn’t open an investigation at that time because they weren’t sure how to approach such a sensitive probe.
    Trump’s behavior in the days around Comey’s May 2017 firing helped trigger the counterintelligence part of the probe, according to the newspaper.
    In the inquiry, counterintelligence investigators sought to evaluate whether Trump was a potential threat to national security.    They also sought to determine whether Trump was working for Russia deliberately or had unintentionally been influenced by Moscow.
    Trump tweeted early Saturday that the report showed that the FBI leadership “opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof” after he had fired Comey.
    Robert Mueller took over the investigation when he was appointed special counsel soon after Comey’s firing.    The overall investigation is looking into Russian election interference and whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with the Russians, as well as possible obstruction of justice by Trump.    The Times says it’s unclear whether Mueller is still pursuing the counterintelligence angle. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said the report “may well suggest what it was that helped start this investigation in the first place.”
    A new report in The Washington Post said Trump went to great lengths to conceal details of conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin from high-ranking officials in his administration.    The report cited unnamed current and former U.S. officials.
    In the Fox News interview, Trump questioned why the newspaper made such a “big deal” out of his discussions with Putin in Helsinki last summer.    “Anybody could have listened to that meeting, that meeting is up for grabs.”
    Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., defended the president, who he said was “burned earlier by leaks of other private conversations.”
    Trump has repeatedly denied collusion with the Russians.
[The articles used quotes from Democrats only:
    Mark Robert Warner, an American businessman and politician serving as the senior United States Senator from Virginia, a seat he was first elected to in 2008, member of the Democratic Party and currently a Vice Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus and the Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
    Christopher Andrew Coons, an American politician serving as the Junior United States Senator from Delaware since 2010, member of the Democratic Party, won a special election to succeed Ted Kaufman, who had been appointed to the seat when Joe Biden resigned to become Vice President of the United States.
    In April 2018, following the FBI raid on the hotel room and offices of Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, Coons, together with Cory Booker, Lindsey Graham, and Thom Tillis, introduced new legislation to "limit President Trump's ability to fire special counsel Robert Mueller," termed the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, the legislation would allow any special counsel, in this case Mueller, receive an "expedited judicial review" in the 10 days following being dismissed to determine if said dismissal was suitable.    If negative, the special counsel would be reinstated.    At the same time, according to The Hill, the bill would "codify regulations" that a special counsel could only be fired for by a senior Justice Department official, while having to provide reasons in writing.    So after 2 years and $25 millionif he had found something telling us that no collusion has been found, when does it end.].

1/14/2019 Nuclear chief: Iran exploring options by Nasser Karimi, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    TEHRAN, Iran – The head of Iran’s nuclear program said Sunday that the Islamic Republic has begun “preliminary activities for designing” a modern process for 20 percent uranium enrichment for its 50-year-old research reactor in Tehran, signaling new danger for the nuclear deal.
    Restarting enrichment at that level would mean Iran has withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear deal it struck with world powers, an accord that President Donald Trump already pulled America out of in May.
    However, Ali Akbar Salehi’s comments to state television appeared aimed at telling the world Iran would slowly restart its program.    If it chooses, it could resume mass enrichment at its main facility in the central Iranian town of Natanz.
    “Preliminary activities for designing modern 20 percent (enriched uranium) fuel have begun,” state TV quoted Salehi as saying.
    Salehi said adding the “modern fuel” will increase efficiency in Tehran’s research reactor.
    “We are at the verge” of being ready, he said, without elaborating.
    In June, Iran informed the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog that it will increase its nuclear enrichment capacity within the limits set by the 2015 agreement with world powers.    Iran continues to comply with the terms of the deal, according to the U.N., despite the American pullout.
    Salehi heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, whose Tehran campus holds the nuclear research reactor given to the country by the U.S. in 1967 under the rule of the shah.    But in the time since that American “Atoms for Peace” donation, Iran was convulsed by its 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent takeover and hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
    For decades since, Western nations have been concerned about Iran’s nuclear program, accusing Tehran of seeking atomic weapons.    Iran long has said its program is for peaceful purposes, but it faced years of crippling sanctions.
    The 2015 nuclear deal Iran struck with world powers, including the U.S. under President Barack Obama, was aimed at relieving those fears.    Under it, Iran agreed to store its excess centrifuges at its underground Natanz enrichment facility under constant surveillance by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.    Iran can use 5,060 older-model IR-1 centrifuges at Natanz, but only to enrich uranium up to 3.67 percent.
    That low-level enrichment means the uranium can be used to fuel a civilian reactor but is far below the 90 percent needed to produce a weapon.    Iran also can possess no more than 660 pounds of that uranium.    That’s compared to the 22,000 pounds of highly enriched uranium it once had.
    In an interview in September with The Associated Press, Salehi warned that Iran could begin mass production of more advanced centrifuges if the deal collapses.
    “If we have to go back and withdraw from the nuclear deal, we certainly do not go back to where we were before,” Salehi said at the time.    “We will be standing on a much, much higher position.”
Nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi says Iran has begun “preliminary activities for designing” a modern uranium enrichment process. VAHID SALEMI/AP FILE

1/14/2019 Rejecting Brexit would be ‘catastrophic,’ May warns by Danica Kirka, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    LONDON – British Prime Minister Theresa May warned Sunday that lawmakers risk undermining the public’s faith in democracy if they reject her divorce deal with the European Union in a vote set for Tuesday.
    May said some members of Parliament were playing political games with the Brexit debate. Lawmakers, she said, should respect the results of the 2016 referendum in which 52 percent of voters backed leaving the EU.
    Failing to do so “would be a catastrophic and unforgivable breach of trust in our democracy,” she wrote in a commentary published by the Sunday Express.    “So my message to Parliament this weekend is simple: It is time to forget the games and do what is right for our country.”
    The government also tried to pressure resistant lawmakers by saying their refusal to fall in line could result in Britain remaining a member of the EU.    Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay warned Sunday of the growing risk that Parliament could block Brexit>     The prime minister’s office also said it was “extremely concerned” about reports that some members of Parliament would try to seize control of Brexit negotiations if the agreement May’s government reached with the EU is defeated.
    The Sunday Times newspaper reported that senior lawmakers intend to try to change the rules of the House of Commons so they can wrest control of the legislative agenda from the government.
    The prime minister faces widespread opposition to the existing agreement, primarily because of language designed to prevent the reintroduction of physical border controls between Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., and the Republic of Ireland, a member of the EU.
    Lawmakers on all sides of the Brexit debate fear the so-called Northern Ireland backstop could leave Britain tied to the EU indefinitely.
    May postponed a vote on the deal in mid-December when a resounding defeat was clear.    She now is urging Parliament to support it so Britain doesn’t leave the EU on March 29 without a deal, which would threaten trade, jobs and economic growth.
    While a majority of the 650-seat House of Commons appears to oppose leaving the EU with no deal, there is no agreement on what alternative to pursue.
    Straw polls show more than 200 lawmakers back May’s deal, while about 100 support a no-deal Brexit and other factions advocate a “soft Brexit” that keeps Britain close to the EU or a second referendum.
    The BBC estimates that May’s deal is likely to be supported by about 240 lawmakers, far short of the number needed for passage.
    British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said Sunday the Labour Party will seek to force a general election if Parliament rejects May’s deal.    He suggested that he might force a vote of noconfidence “soon.”    If that effort was successful, Labour would likely also request a delay in the Brexit process.
    “Clearly, if a general election takes place and a Labour Party government comes in ... there would have to be time for those negotiations,” Corbyn said.
Pro-European demonstrators protest in London on Friday. Lawmakers are due to vote on the Brexit agreement Tuesday. FRANK AUGSTEIN/AP

1/14/2019 Attorney general pick’s memo worries Dems - Barr called Mueller case ‘fatally misconceived’ by Kevin Johnson and Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – William Barr’s 19 page memorandum was striking enough when it emerged last month.
    The attorney general under President George H.W. Bush had just been nominated to the same post in President Donald Trump’s administration when the document revealed his stinging critique of Russia special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into possible obstruction by Trump.
    Not only did Barr object to any demand that “the president submit to interrogation” by Mueller’s team, but he asserted that the special counsel’s likely theory – that Trump sought to obstruct Mueller’s inquiry by firing FBI Director James Comey – was “fatally misconceived.”
    Barr’s unsolicited counsel directed last June to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was overseeing Mueller’s work, was not meant for public consumption.    But it promises to be among the most incendiary flashpoints in the 77th attorney general’s bid to become the nation’s 85th chief law enforcement officer Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
    Last week, Barr’s work was thrust further into the spotlight when it was revealed that Rosenstein intended to leave the Justice Department after Barr’s anticipated confirmation.
    Some Democrats, concerned that the nominee’s memo represented a threat to Mueller, called on Barr to recuse himself from the Russia inquiry as a condition of his confirmation.    “I want him to completely disavow that theory of limits of the authority of the special counsel,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a committee member, told USA TODAY.    “I want ironclad, specific limits and possibly even recusal.”
    Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the panel, asked Barr who requested the memo and to whom he provided it after seeing reports he gave it to Trump’s lawyers in addition to Rosenstein. She said that in 25 years on the committee, she had never seen a nominee write such an indepth legal memo for no reason.
    Former Republican attorneys general said Barr has some explaining to do, signaling that the nominee could best calm the turbulent political waters by ensuring lawmakers that his private counsel was offered as just that – without the benefit of any inside knowledge of Mueller’s investigation.
    “This is someone who has held the biggest jobs at the Justice Department,” former Attorney General Michael Mukasey told USA TODAY.    “He was attorney general, deputy attorney general and directed the Office of Legal Counsel.    He is a formidable lawyer who might best explain his work as any good lawyer would: that he will always follow the law.”
    Barr will have to assess a multitude of weighty questions, from the boundaries of the president’s executive authority to the challenge of lifting sagging morale inside a sprawling department that for the past two years has been a punching bag for the president.
    “I can’t think of a more potentially consequential time for any attorney general than the issues facing Justice today,” Mukasey said.
    Trooping to and from private meetings with committee members last week, Barr declined public comment, though he made a few brief exceptions.
    Asked about his relationship with Mueller, who served under Barr during the investigation in 1988 into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, the former attorney general responded with one word: “Terrific.”
    If he is confirmed, the first days and weeks of a Barr tenure are likely to bring a host of challenges, any one of which would probably define an entire term in any other administration.
    As Barr prepares for Tuesday’s hearing, the president is weighing a test of executive power: whether to declare a national emergency that would allow him to bypass Congress and tap billions in federal money to build a long-promised wall along the U.S.Mexican border – a possible path toward ending a shutdown of the federal government.    The move is all but certain to prompt a legal challenge from Democrats that would require the Justice Department to argue the president’s case.
    There are questions about whether Trump – as a sitting president – could be subject to indictment, given the criminal investigations that claimed some of his former top aides.    The Justice Department has taken the position that such a prosecution would unconstitutionally interfere with any president’s capacity to run the government
.    This month, new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., declared the proposition an “open discussion.”
    “I think you have to go back to the Nixon era to appreciate the issues awaiting a new attorney general,” said David Weinstein, who served for more than a decade as a federal prosecutor in Miami.
Attorney general nominee William Barr, right, met with lawmakers,
including Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, on Wednesday. ALEX BRANDON/AP

1/14/2019 Democrats looking to have President Trump’s, Putin’s interpreter from the Helsinki summit testify by OAN Newsroom
    Democrat lawmakers are renewing their calls to have the interpreters from the Helsinki summit testify before Congress.
    According to reports, lawyers for the House Intelligence Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee will meet Monday to evaluate their options to subpoena State Department interpreter Marina Gross.
    Lawmakers say details surrounding the meeting are still not known.    President Trump said he and Vladimir Putin discussed several topics, including nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade as well as North Korea.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during their joint news conference
at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
    When asked if he would be in favor of having Gross testify before Congress last year, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham had this to say:
    “Absolutely not, that will be the last time you ever have a foreign leader meet with the president of the United States privately and I can tell you there may be times where we need to do that, so I can’t imagine how that would affect future president’s in their ability to talk to foreign leaders.”
    Senator Graham’s comments echo the sentiments of other interpreter groups, who say the industry takes confidentiality very seriously at all levels.    A formal request to Gross has not yet been sent.

1/14/2019 President Macron pens letter to French public hoping to end ‘yellow vest’ protests by OAN Newsroom
    In a letter to the people, French President Emmanuel Macron kicked-off a debate that he hopes will end the weeks-long nationwide yellow vest protests.
    Sunday reports detailed the 2,330-word letter penned by Macron, which is set to run in French newspapers.
    The president pledged to listen to new ideas and engage in debate to bring peace.    He also said “there is no banned issue,” but added he would remain faithful to his campaign and appeared to rule out rolling back some of his pro-business economic reforms.
    The letter comes after nine-weeks of ‘yellow vest’ demonstrations throughout France.
FILE – In this Monday, Dec. 17, 2018 file photo, French President Emmanuel Macron pauses before answering as he attends
a media conference with Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kabore at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
Yellow vest protesters and political rivals say a sweeping “letter to the French” from President Emmanuel Macron
doesn’t go far enough to quell national anger at his policies. (Benoit Tessier/Pool Photo via AP, File)
    “It’s unprecedented to have this kind of debate at a national level and at a global scale, I don’t have a comparable example, so, it’s an opportunity to seize and come out of this crisis that we find ourselves in,” said Jean-Michel Blanquer, French Minister for Education.
    Some of the questions asked in the letter include which taxes the public thinks should be cut, which public spending savings should be priorities, and if the country should introduce more referendums.
    The debate is set to end March 15, 2019 with Macron delivering his own conclusions within a month after that.

1/14/2019 President Trump: The great people of our country demand proper border security by OAN Newsroom
FILE- In this Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, file photo seen from a window outside the Oval Office, President Donald Trump
gives a prime-time address about border security at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
    President Trump is maintaining his hardline stance on the necessity for a southern border wall, and is highlighting the dangers posed by illegal immigration.
    In a pair of tweets Sunday, the president referred to statistics that ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records, including those charged or convicted of assaults, sex crimes and violent killings.
    Trump tweet: “The Trump portrait of an unsustainable Border Crisis is dead on. “In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with Criminal Records, including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes & 4000 violent killings.” America’s Southern....”     The president citied Patrick Buchanan, a former assistant to the president for communications under several prior administrations, when saying the U.S.’s southern border will eventually be militarized and defended.
    Trump tweet: “....Border is eventually going to be militarized and defended or the United States, as we have known it, is going to cease to exist...And Americans will not go gentle into that good night. Patrick Buchanan. The great people of our Country demand proper Border Security NOW!
    President Trump went on to say the great people of our country demand proper border security now.

1/14/2019 Judge blocks White House rule on birth control coverage, upholds Obama-era mandate by OAN Newsroom
    There has been a major blow to the Trump administration in its fight for religious freedom. On Sunday, a federal judge temporarily blocked the White House’s rules, which allowed more employers to opt out of providing free birth control to their employees for religious or moral reasons.
    It was one of the president’s campaign promises, and a goal his administration has focused on since taking office.
    “The president believes one’s right to practice one’s faith is a fundamental right in this country,” stated Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
FILE – In this file photo, Margot Riphagen of New Orleans, La., wears a birth control pills costume
during a protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
    The rule was set to take effect today, but a dozen states and Washington, D.C. filed a lawsuit.    The suit is claiming the rule would lead to a significant number of women losing birth control coverage.
This comes more than a year after President Trump signed an executive order to protect religious freedoms, and to give faith-based organizations a bigger voice in the government. “Under my administration, free speech does not end at the steps of a cathedral or a synagogue or any other house of worship,” stated President Trump. “We are giving our churches their voices back, we are giving them back in the highest form — with this executive order, we also make clear that the federal government will never, ever penalize any person for their protected religious beliefs.” While many of the policies under this executive order are still in place, the status of the birth control mandate will continue to be debated in court.

1/14/2019 Houston airport closes TSA security checkpoint due to shortage of workers by OAN Newsroom
    The George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston recently closed down one of its TSA checkpoints due to the ongoing government shutdown.
In a tweet Sunday, the airport confirmed the security checkpoint at Terminal B was set to be closed, and passengers were to be routed to another terminal. They advised travelers to give themselves extra time to get through security, and suggested they check the airport’s website for wait times. Houston Bus Airport “The @TSA security checkpoint at Terminal B has been closed, and passengers will be routed to either Terminal C or E. if you have a flight, please allow extra time, and check for wait times. #fly2houston” A spokesperson said the move is in response to staffing issues as there are not enough agents to operate security checkpoint screenings.     TSA workers are among the 420,000 federal employees deemed essential, who are working without pay.
Passengers wait in line at a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at the
Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

1/14/2019 South America creating regional bloc to counter Venezuela: Colombia
FILE PHOTO: Colombian President, Ivan Duque, speaks during a promotion ceremony
at a military school in Bogota, Colombia December 17, 2018. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez/File Photo
    BOGOTA (Reuters) – South American countries are developing a new diplomatic group to replace the Unasur regional bloc that is heavily influenced by increasingly isolated Venezuela, Colombian President Ivan Duque said on Monday.
The Union of South American Nations, or Unasur, was created 10 years ago by late Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez to counteract the influence of the United States in the region as a wave of leftist leaders held sway over the region’s politics. But mounting criticism that Chavez’s successor, President Nicolas Maduro, is undermining democracy, as well as a general rightward shift in the region, led Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Peru to suspend their participation in the group. The new group, called Prosur, would seek to counteract the influence of what countries in the region call a dictatorship in Venezuela. “We’ve been advancing toward the end of Unasur and the creation of Prosur … a South American platform for the coordination of public policies, the defense of democracy, independent institutions, and market economies,” Duque said in a radio interview. “It is very important that (Unasur), which has been a supporter of the dictatorship of Venezuela, be shut down,” Duque said. Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The troubled nation’s economic crisis has caused an exodus of 3 million people since 2015, according to the United Nations, the vast majority of which have gone to neighboring Colombia. Maduro says the country is victim of an “economic war” led by political adversaries with the help of the United States, which has levied several rounds of sanctions against Maduro’s government and top officials. (Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Paul Simao)

1/14/2019 Venezuela’s Maduro to announce economic measures as new term starts
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gestures while he arrives for a special session of the National Constituent Assembly
to present his annual state of the nation in Caracas, Venezuela January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
    CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was set to announce new economic measures on Monday after starting a disputed second term in office last week, although economists expect few major changes as the country grapples with a devastating economic crisis.
The leftist president, sworn in for a six-year term on Jan. 10, has faced growing international sanctions since winning re-election last May in a vote widely considered fraudulent. This has cut Venezuela off from foreign financing and left his government with few friends abroad. Maduro said last week he planned new economic measures, but has not given any details of what he will announce on Monday. The president is expected to speak at around 11 a.m. ET (1600 GMT) before an all-powerful legislature called the Constituent Assembly to present his plan. Critics in the United States and Latin America, as well as political opponents at home, have called Maduro a dictator whose failed state-led policies have caused Venezuela’s worst ever economic crisis. Maduro counters that he is victim of a U.S.-led “economic war” aimed at ousting him from power. The size of the economy has halved during five years of recession, annual inflation is nearly 2 million percent, and widespread shortages of food and medicine have spurred three million Venezuelans to emigrate since 2015. In August, Maduro’s government introduced several economic measures to try to tackle the crisis, devaluing the bolivar currency and lifting the minimum wage and taxes. But economists say the measures were too limited to have a significant impact. As Maduro’s second term got underway, the leader of the country’s opposition-led Congress, Juan Guaido, said last week he was willing to replace Maduro with the support of the military. Several government officials have said Guaido should be arrested for treason and on Sunday he was briefly detained by intelligence agents. (Reporting by Vivian Sequera; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Frances Kerry)

1/14/2019 Rep. Meadows: Democrats don’t negotiate by OAN Newsroom
    The Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus is directing his ire at democrat leadership, accusing the party of not cooperating amid the shutdown.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., questions Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz during
a joint House Committee on the Judiciary and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing
examining Horowitz’s report of the FBI’s Clinton email probe, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, June 19, 2018 in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    Representative Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) sent out a tweet on Monday saying the notion that negotiations have stalled is a myth, claiming they never started to begin with.
    Now, three weeks later, democrats are still offering the same amount.
    In his tweet, Meadows added as soon as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) get serious about compromising, we’ll be able to solve this impasse.

1/15/2019 Oil down $1.05 to $50.51, DOW down 86 to 23,910

1/15/2019 OAN’s Posobiec: Ala. false flag campaign tied to Fusion GPS, Soros Group by OAN Newsroom
One America’s Jack Posobiec is reporting a new development in the investigation
into the alleged Democrat-led disinformation campaign against Roy Moore, as can be seen clearly in the following 3 articles.
    As seen at the following article
1/8/2019 Obama-Era Officials Behind The Ala False Flag Campaign
    Two Obama-era officials were instrumental in the false flag operation in Alabama ahead of the special election in 2017, reports show.
    One of the Obama-era officials behind the misinformation campaign in Alabama finally opened up about his group’s role in the caper.
    Two of the people involved in the social media misinformation campaign in Alabama are denying their roles in the operation, reports indicate.
    A trove of reports show two Obama-era officials are partially responsible for a misinformation campaign designed to derail Republican Roy Moore’s senatorial campaign in Alabama.
    Former President Barack Obama campaign organizer, Mikey Dickerson, was instrumental in a disinformation campaign targeting Moore, reports show.    He was not alone.    Evan Coren, who has worked for the National Archives unit since Obama’s first term, also targeted the Republican’s campaign.
    Coren, for his part, is a progressive activist who handles classified documents for the Department of Energy.    He has not responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment about the nature of the campaign, which was designed to fool conservatives into believing Moore intended to reimpose prohibition.
    As seen at moore-in-2017/ is the article seen below.
    1/10/2019 U.S. Sen. Doug Jones asks for federal investigation into ‘false flag’ campaign against Roy Moore in 2017 by Brian Lawson
    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — U.S. Sen. Doug Jones is asking the Federal Election Commission to investigate misinformation campaign tactics used against his opponent Roy Moore in the 2017 Alabama Special Election.
    Jones has denied having any knowledge of the efforts waged on his behalf.
    His defeat of Moore by 22,000 votes was considered a major upset in Republican-dominated Alabama. Moore’s campaign was also rocked by allegations dating back 40 years, that he pursued and engaged in sexual activity with high school girls, while he was a prosecutor in Etowah County.
    Jones made the formal request Wednesday, citing reports from the New York Times and Washington Post that outlined tactics employed against Moore, including faking that he’d received a sharp boost in Russian-named followers on Twitter who’d amplify his message and using a fake campaign pushing an alcohol ban in Alabama to divide Republican voters.
    In his letter, Jones said such tactics should be not be used.
    “Specifically, recent news reports indicate that an organization, Investing in US, and a company called New Knowledge, funded projects to create two Facebook pages in connection with the recent special election for the United States in Alabama in December of 2017,” Jones wrote. “I am truly outraged by these news reports.    Such deceptive tactics have no place in American politics and must be repudiated by those involved in our political system.”
    Moore has been critical of Jones’ calls for an investigation, saying the damage has already been done.
Jones’ letter says the campaign tactics might have violated the Federal Campaign Act in connection to a U.S. Senate election, but doesn’t spell out any possible violations.
    Matt Osborne, a Florence-area political writer and activist, was part of the effort. He’s written the aim was to deter suburban white male voters from supporting Moore.    He said 3 million voters were targeted during the Senate special election.
    Osborne told WHNT News 19 Monday that he’d rather see Congress regulate political disinformation efforts, but there’s currently nothing illegal about such tactics.    Osborne said it would be a mistake to voluntarily quit using those tools when they’re also used by Republicans.
    As seen at is the article below.
9/26/2018 George Soros Funded Fusion GPS, His Spokesman Confirms by the Daily Caller New Foundation, Chuck Ross
    A spokesman for left-wing billionaire financier George Soros is acknowledging that he indirectly funded Fusion GPS, the firm behind the Steele dossier.
  • Sources have told The Daily Caller News Foundation in the past that Soros helped fund Fusion’s post-election work on Russian interference in the election process.
  • Soros’ spokesman told The Washington Post that Soros donated to the Democracy Integrity Project, a group founded by a former staffer to Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
    George Soros has indirectly funded Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm behind the infamous Steele dossier, a spokesman for the billionaire financier has acknowledged.
    Michael Vachon, the Soros aide, told Washington Post columnist David Ignatius that Soros provided a grant to a nonprofit group called the Democracy Integrity Project.
    That organization, which was formed in 2017 by Daniel Jones, a former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer for Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, paid Fusion GPS as a contractor to continue an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
    The Post column confirms what a Washington, D.C., lawyer named Adam Waldman told The Daily Caller News Foundation about a conversation he had with Jones in March 2017.
    Waldman was an attorney for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.    He also worked in some capacity for Christopher Steele, according to text messages he exchanged with Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence panel.
    In what the Post’s Ignatius noted was an “incestuous” relationship, Steele, a former MI6 officer, has done work for the Kremlin-linked Deripaska in the past.
    Waldman told The DCNF that Jones approached him on March 15, 2017 through text message asking to meet.
    “Dan Jones here from the Democracy Integrity Project.    Chris wanted us to connect,” he wrote, seemingly referring to Steele.    At a meeting two days later, Waldman said that Jones told him that he was working with Steele and Fusion GPS and that their project was being funded by Soros and a group of Silicon Valley billionaires. (RELATED: Lawyer Claims Soros Funded Fusion GPS).
    Jones told the FBI in interviews in March 2017 that his organization was paid around $50 million by a group of billionaires to conduct the investigation.
    Jones’ statements to the FBI were first revealed in a report released by Republican members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on April 27.
    “In late March 2017, Jones met with FBI regarding PQG, which he described as ‘exposing foreign influence in Western election,'” reads the committee’s report, referring to Jones’ consulting firm, Penn Quarter Group.
    “[Redacted] told FBI that PQG was being funded by 7 to 10 wealthy donors located primarily in New York and California, who provided approximately $50 million,” the report continues.    “[Redacted] further stated that PQG had secured the services of Steele, his associate [redacted], and Fusion GPS to continue exposing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.”
    Jones said that he “planned to share the information he obtained with policymakers … and with the press.”    He also offered to provide all materials to the FBI.
    It is unclear what information Jones & Co. have provided to the media.    But he did send text messages to Waldman linking to news articles that he claimed his team was behind.
    “Our team helped with this,” he wrote, linking to a March 17, 2017 Reuters article about Russians investing in Trump property in Florida.
    Jones also sent Waldman a link to a March 20, 2017 article at McClatchy, which reported that federal investigators were looking into whether right-wing news sites like Breitbart and Infowars played a part in Russia’s election-oriented cyber operations.
    The article cited “two sources familiar” with the matter.    The same McClatchy reporters, Greg Gordon and Peter Stone, relied on the same sourcing for other controversial stories about the Russia probe, including one report that special counsel Robert Mueller has evidence that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen traveled to Prague during the campaign, as alleged in the Steele dossier.
    The same reporters also wrote a story on March 15 alleging that conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell expressed concerns about Russian funding of the National Rifle Association.    Mitchell vehemently denied the report, noting that she was not an NRA lawyer during the campaign season, as McClatchy reported.
    It has since been revealed that Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, provided similar information about Mitchell to Bruce Ohr, a Department of Justice official who served as a back channel between Steele and the FBI.    Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS on the anti-Trump project.
    Vachon, the Soros spokesman, did not respond to The DCNF’s request for comment.
[Michael Vachon, Advisor to the Chairman at Soros Fund Management (SFM), serves as spokesperson for the Fund and for Mr. Soros personally.
The Democracy Integrity Project, a left-leaning 501(c)(4) nonprofit created in 2017 by former U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee staffer Daniel J. Jones, and has been accused of working with the controversial opposition research firm Fusion GPS.
Adam Waldman, US lobbyist for the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and visited Julian Assange nine times at the Ecuadorian embassy.
The Penn Quarter Group (PQG), a research and investigative advisory based in Washington, D.C. is led by Daniel J. Jones].

1/15/2019 Hundreds of Hondurans set off toward United States in new caravan
Hondurans take part in a new caravan of migrants, set to head to the United States,
as they leave San Pedro Sula, Honduras January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera
    SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (Reuters) – Hundreds of Honduran migrants began the long trek north on Monday, part of new U.S.-bound caravan that hopes to succeed even as a previous wave of Central Americans were unable to quickly enter the United States.
    Central American migrant caravans have become a flashpoint in the debate over U.S. immigration policy, as President Donald Trump has remained adamant that the migrants will be barred from crossing the border.
    Television footage on Monday showed several hundred people in the violent city of San Pedro Sula huddled together and waving Honduran flags as they began a journey that will likely take weeks or even months to reach the U.S.-Mexico border.
    Between 600 and 800 Hondurans have joined the caravan, according to an estimate provided by Miroslava Serpas, head of migrant affairs with the CIPRODEH human rights research center that is accompanying the group.
    Last October, another migrants caravan left Honduras made up of men, women and children, mostly claiming that they were fleeing entrenched poverty and gangland violence back home.
    While some 2,500 people from that caravan remain in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, more than 7,000 have returned to Honduras, according to Honduran officials.
    “I’m determined to find a good job in the United States,” said 24-year-old caravan member Darwin Perez.
    “It’s a difficult road ahead but I hope President Trump’s heart might soften, and that he won’t be so hard and will let us enter,” he added.
    Other migrants, some traveling with spouses and children, echoed Perez’s dream to find work in the United States.
    Trump has repeatedly vowed to stop the Central American caravans, sending troops to reinforce the border and describing the migrants as an invading force.
(Reporting by Jorge Cabrera and Gustavo Palencia; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

1/15/2019 Senate committee grills AG nominee William Barr by OAN Newsroom
    William Barr appeared on Capitol Hill for the first day of confirmation hearings to become the next attorney general of the United States.
    In his opening remarks Tuesday, Barr addressed concerns about his view on the Russia investigation.    He said the country needs to be free of partisan politics, and Robert Mueller needs to be allowed to finish his probe.
    Barr also mentioned his 2018 memo to the Department of Justice, where he criticized the obstruction of justice case against President Trump.    He said he wrote that memo with a narrow view of the investigation, and his opinion was only to express his legal point of view.
Attorney General nominee William Barr speaks before the Senate Judiciary Committee
on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
    He then vowed to allow the Mueller probe to continue:
    “I believe it is vitally important that the special counsel be allowed to complete his investigation.    I have known Bob Mueller for 30 years.    We worked closely together throughout my previous tenure at the Department of Justice.    We’ve been friends since and I have the utmost respect for Bob and his distinguished record of public service.    And when he was named special counsel I said his selection was good news and that knowing him, I had confidence he would handle the matter properly and I still have that confidence today.    Given his public actions to date, I expect that the special counsel is well along in his investigation.    At the same time, the president has been steadfast that he was not involved in any collusion with Russian attempts to interfere in the election.    I believe it is in the best interests of everyone, the president, Congress and the American people, that this matter be resolved by allowing the special counsel to complete his work.    The country needs a credible resolution to these issues and if confirmed, I will not permit partisan politics, personal interests or any other improper consideration to interfere with this or any other investigation.    I will follow the special counsel regulations scrupulously and in good faith and on my watch Bob will be allowed to finish his work.”
    Barr also pledged to uphold the integrity of the office of the attorney general.
[He will write a report when Mueller's report is done to the committee which the Democrats believe it will not be redacted.    So at that point the witch hunt will be over.].

1/15/2019 Former Democrat Senate leader warns against push for 70% tax rate by OAN Newsroom
    A former Democrat Senate majority leader is warning against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to raise taxes.
    In an interview published Sunday, Harry Reid suggested those backing a 70-percent marginal tax rate have to be careful because the American people do not want “radical change quickly.”
FILE – In this Dec. 8, 2016 file photo then Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks during
a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington. R(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
    Under Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal, Americans earning more than $10 million a year would see their income tax rate skyrocket from the current 37-percent.
    Some on the left have used Denmark as the model for raising income taxes on the upper class, which tax activists have argued would actually take a toll on the middle class.
    Ocasio-Cortez has continued to push for radical changes, which is something that veteran lawmakers, including her own party, have warned against pushing for.
    This comes as the 2020 elections are right around the corner, where many progressive Democrat candidates could use this tax proposal as a campaign platform.
[Wow, there are some adults in the Democrats regime to stand up to the dreamers, who are hell-bent to turn this country into a Socialist state.].

1/15/2019 Pentagon extends U.S. border mission as another migrant caravan leaves from Honduras by OAN Newsroom
    The Pentagon is not wasting any time in securing the southern border, even as lawmakers continue to debate the matter on Capitol Hill.
    The Defense Department is one of few agencies already funded and not affected by the partial government shutdown, which is why they’re extending their mission at the southern border through September.
    It’s still unclear how many troops will be a part of this, but their mission will be to secure existing barriers by laying down barbed wire and operating security cameras among other tasks.
    This operation comes as another migrant caravan left to make the dangerous trip north, with hopes of being granted asylum in the U.S.    This news has already made its way to the White House, with President Trump using it as another example of why a border wall is necessary for national security.
    “There is another major caravan forming right now in Honduras and, so far, we’re trying to break it up, but, so far, it’s bigger than anything we’ve seen and a drone isn’t going to stop it,” he stated.    “And a sensor isn’t going to stop it, but you know what’s going to stop it in its tracks — a nice, powerful wall.”
Migrants begin their journey under a steady rain as a caravan of several hundred sets off walking toward the United States,
from a main bus station in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, late Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. Yet another caravan of Central American migrants left from
Honduras, seeking to reach the U.S. border, following the same route followed by thousands on at least three caravans last year. (AP Photo/Delmer Martinez)
    Like the previous caravans, members of this one say they’re leaving their home countries because their government is failing and their communities are too dangerous. However, the new caravan will need to strategize differently.
    The Mexican government said they’re willing to grant asylum to these migrants, but only if they enter the country legally and if they register for visas.    If they follow in their predecessors footsteps, they’ll be deported back to their home countries before even attempting to make it in to the U.S.    This in itself could be a dead end as the White House is showing no signs of backing down in its fight for increased border security.

1/15/2019 White House urges Congress to close immigration loopholes in wake of MS-13 stabbing in N.Y. by OAN Newsroom
    The White House is ramping up its push for immigration reform in the wake of recent MS-13 stabbings.    In a tweet Monday, the Trump administration denounced a violent attack on two high school students in New York, which was carried out by suspected illegal alien teenagers.
    The White House urged Congress to close the DACA loophole that is allowing underage criminals to be in the U.S.
    The White House tweet: “Another stabbing at the hands of MS-13 that could have been prevented.    Enough is enough. Congress, close this loophole!
    This comes after two teenagers were stabbed at a Burger King in Long Island by three alleged DACA recipients, who arrived in the U.S. back in 2016.
    Following the incident, President Trump reiterated a border wall will put an end to alien crime across the U.S.
    In a separate statement, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed violent criminals are exploiting loopholes in immigration law to remain in the U.S.
19-year-old Ramon Arevalo Lopez, 20-year-old Nobeli Montes Zuniga and 17-year-old Oscar Canales Molina were charged with second-degree assault. (Photo/handouts/NYPD-Long Island)

1/15/2019 Venezuela Congress declares President Maduro ‘usurper’ of democracy by Mayela Armas and Corina Pons
Deputies vote during a National Assembly session in Caracas, Venezuela January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero
    CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s opposition-run Congress on Tuesday formally declared President Nicolas Maduro a “usurper,” whose actions would be considered null and void after he was sworn in last week for a disputed second term.
    U.S. President Donald Trump is considering recognizing the leader of the Congress, Juan Guaido, as Venezuela’s legitimate president, CNN reported on Tuesday, citing three unidentified sources.
    Maduro was inaugurated on Jan. 10 under an avalanche of criticism that his leadership was illegitimate following a 2018 election widely viewed as fraudulent, with countries around the world disavowing his government.
    The United States and many Latin American nations say Maduro has become a dictator whose failed state-led policies have plunged Venezuela into its worst ever economic crisis, with no recovery in sight.    Maduro says that a U.S.-directed “economic war” is trying to force him from power.
    The declaration from Congress calls for a “political transition” to a new government.
    “Today Congress declares that at this time there is no president of the republic,” Jorge Millan, an opposition legislator, said in a speech.    “Let’s start the process to recover the constitutional order,” he said.
    Congress is also due to consider a measure that would ask dozens of foreign governments to freeze bank accounts controlled by Maduro’s government, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.
    Congress will request that governments instruct regulatory agencies to “prohibit any movement of liquid assets by the Venezuelan state in local bank accounts,” the document said.
    The governments include the United States, European Union, and Latin American neighbors such as Chile and Brazil.    The United States and EU have already imposed sanctions that limit the sale of Venezuelan government debt and freeze assets belonging to Maduro and a number of his top officials.
    Asked if further sanctions could be in the pipeline, a White House spokesman said the United States was considering “all diplomatic, political, and economic tools in its arsenal in response to the usurpation of power by the illegitimate Maduro regime.”
    In response to a request for comment on the CNN report, the spokesman said: “The United States has expressed its support for Juan Guaido, who as president of the democratically-elected National Assembly has courageously declared his constitutional authority to … call for free and fair elections.”
    Last week, Guaido said he was willing to replace Maduro with the support of the military.    Several government officials have said he should be arrested for treason and on Sunday he was briefly detained by intelligence agents.
    Lawmakers are discussing a future amnesty for government officials and military officers who reject Maduro and help bring about a return to democracy.
    Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the measure.
    The pro-government Supreme Court, which has been in open conflict with the legislature since the opposition took it over in 2016, has ruled that all laws that Congress passes are invalid.
    Diosdado Cabello, president of the Constituent Assembly, a legislative superbody elected in 2017 that gives the ruling Socialist Party sweeping powers, said on Tuesday that the opposition in Congress were “the only ones trying to usurp power.”
    “They’ve spent 20 years trying to force us from government,” Cabello told a news conference.
(Reporting by Mayela Armas and Corina Pons, additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Writing by Brian Ellsworth and Angus Berwick; Editing by Richard Chang and Rosalba O’Brien)

1/15/2019 Launching national debate, Macron makes another faux pas about the poor
French President Emmanuel Macron attends a meeting with mayors from rural Normandy as part
of the launching of the "Great National Debate" designed to find ways to calm social unrest in the country,
in Grand Bourgtheroulde, France, January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool
    GRAND-BOURGTHEROULDE, France (Reuters) – France’s Emmanuel Macron began a national debate on Tuesday meant to calm protests against high living costs, but he may have started on the wrong foot by suggesting some poor people were “screwing” with the system.
    The president paid a surprise visit to a village in Normandy on his way to what was the first of thousands of debates that officials across the country will hold in an effort to quell “yellow vest” protests that have wrought havoc nationwide.
    Under pressure to appear more humble after previous sharp remarks, Macron nonetheless infuriated critics with comments they said were disparaging to the poor.
    “For people who are struggling, we will make them more aware of their responsibilities, because some of them are behaving properly, while others are screwing about,” Macron told local councillors in the village of Gasny.
    Macron struck a more appeasing tone in the town hall meeting, saying the yellow-vest movement was an opportunity for the country and conceding he should adopt a more inclusive governing style.    But political rivals said the damage was done.
    “This remark will shock the French, it is unacceptable.    The president should not speak this way,” Daniel Fasquelle, a lawmaker for the conservative Republicans party told Reuters.
    Olivier Faure, the head of the Socialist party, said: “The way he always bowls the same ball and suggests the poor are milking the system is unbearable.”
    It is the second time in two weeks Macron has been accused of adding fuel to the fire.    On Friday, he said too many French people thought “one can get something without any effort.”
    The debate with 600 mayors in the town of Grand-Bourgtheroulde was the first of a two-month “great debate” – a series of town hall meetings for local people to air their views.
    Asked by one mayor whether he regretted some of his remarks, citing his comment about how unemployed people can often just “cross the road” to get a job, Macron replied: “That’s how I am, I’m not going to change.” (Reporting by Marine Pennetier, Michel Rose and Elizabeth Pineau; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

1/15/2019 Bolsonaro loosens gun laws in murder-ridden Brazil by Maria Carolina Marcello
FILE PHOTO: A client catches a handgun at the 1911 Shooting Club in Sao Paulo, Brazil, January 11, 2019. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
    BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday signed a temporary decree making it easier for Brazilians to buy guns, delivering on a campaign promise to overturn strict regulations in a country suffering from a record wave of gangland murders.
    Bolsonaro won the presidency by running on a far-right, law-and-order platform, and often delighted supporters at campaign stops with his signature “guns up” hand gesture.    His maverick presidential run energized a base of rural landowners, Christian conservatives and free market hawks who yearned for a tougher response to years of rising violence and endemic graft.
    The temporary decree, which will expire in 120 days unless ratified by Congress, is likely to thrill his supporters, but many others fear it will only worsen violence in Brazil, which suffered a record 64,000 murders in 2017, the world’s highest tally.     Nearly 45,000 of those homicides involved firearms.
    A one-time army captain who took office on Jan. 1, Bolsonaro eventually wants to overturn a 2003 law that effectively banned civilian purchase of guns.
    “To guarantee citizens their legitimate right to defense, I, as president, will use this weapon,” Bolsonaro said, holding up the pen he then used to sign the decree.
    Gun laws toughened considerably under former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who in 2003 signed sweeping measures that prevented ordinary citizens from carrying guns.    The law mandated background checks for gun purchases and gave federal police the right to reject applications for gun ownership for any reason.
    However, Lula’s attempts to deepen gun control foundered in a 2005 referendum, when about 65 percent of Brazilians voted against a proposal to completely ban gun sales.
    Bolsonaro’s executive order will remove the “discretionary” role that federal police have in approving civilians’ requests to buy guns.    He has said decisions on who can, or cannot, carry weapons are completely subjective.
    The measure will apply to people living in the countryside, those residing in urban areas where the homicide rate is above 10 deaths per 100,000 people, and to “collectors and hunters.”
    Brazilians will be allowed to keep up to four guns in their homes or places of business, though that number could rise on a case-by-case basis.    Any home with a child, or someone suffering from certain mental illnesses, must store the weapons in a safe.
    Federal Police data shows that just over 646,000 arms legally sold are in circulation in Brazil as of this month.    About half of those weapons are registered to private citizens.    The rest are held by private and public security firms.
    Accurate data on how many illegal firearms are in Brazil is hard to come by, but previous studies from the Justice Ministry suggest nearly 8 million weapons are in the country illegally.
    Brazil’s heavily armed drug gangs and paramilitary militias easily obtain weapons that are made by domestic manufacturers, mainly Taurus Armas SA, or smuggled over the country’s porous borders.
    Gangs in Rio de Janeiro almost exclusively carry Glock weapons now, and have obtained an array of AR Rifles that come from American and European manufacturers.
    Onyx Lorenzoni, Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, said the decree restored the right of citizens to have a weapon for their legitimate defense, a right he said had been denied by previous leftist governments.
    “Studies show that the better armed the population is the less violence there will be,” Lorenzoni told the GloboNews cable channel.    He said armed robberies of homes had increased because thieves knew residents could not defend themselves.
    Robert Muggah, director of research at the Rio-based Igarape Institute, a security and development think tank, said that is not true.
    “There is no hard evidence that loosening access to firearms improves public safety or security,” he said.    “By contrast, there is considerable evidence that responsible regulations are associated with reductions in gun-related homicide of civilians and police officers alike.”
(Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcela; Additional reporting by Brad Brooks in Sao Paulo and Gabriel Stargardter in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Steve Orlofsky)
[America read this and stop any Socialist Liberal policies that make us lose our Second Amendment rights.].

1/15/2019 German spies to launch anti-extremism probe into far-right opposition
FILE PHOTO: Supporters of the Anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD)
walk during a protest in Berlin, Germany May 27, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
    BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s domestic spy agency will investigate Alternative for Germany (AfD) to see whether the anti-immigrant party’s policies breach constitutional safeguards against extremism, its chief said on>     The BfV has classified Germany’s main opposition party as a “case to investigate,” domestic intelligence chief Thomas Haldenwang said, but the probe would fall short of full-blown surveillance of the AfD.
    Germany’s constitution contains strict protections against extremism, allowing for the close monitoring and even the outlawing of far-left or far-right parties.    The measure is rare, though the BfV has previously monitored other political parties.
    The AfD surged into the national parliament in a 2017 election, drawing votes from mainstream parties by focusing on voters’ concerns over immigration.    It is represented in all 16 of Germany’s regional parliaments.
    “i>The BfV has initial indications that the AfD’s policies are against the democratic constitutional order,” Haldenwang told a news conference in Berlin.
    “But those indications are not sufficiently concentrated to start monitoring the party using espionage methods,” he said.
    Haldenwang, whose predecessor Hans-Georg Maassen was moved over his alleged far-right sympathies, said the spy agency would pay closer attention to the AfD’s youth wing and elements close to regional AfD leader Bjoern Hoecke.
    Hoecke has decried Germany’s main memorial to Holocaust victims as a “monument of shame.”    The BfV said some members close to Hoecke had ties to organizations that have already been classified as extremist.
    “Whoever discriminates against people on the basis of their origins is being racist and nationalist.    Parts of the AfD are a case for the domestic intelligence office,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted, alluding to the report.
    “But observing them won’t solve the problems.    Above all we need to deal with the AfD objectively and politically.”
    AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland condemned Haldenwang’s announcement: “It is completely clear that we think this BfV decision is wrong.    It’s also completely clear that we will take legal action against this decision.”
    Haldenwang said the BfV was concerned by a increase in momentum among right-wing extremist groups in recent years.
    The German state of Thuringia said in September it would examine whether the regional chapter of the AfD was pursuing unconstitutional goals.
    At that time, the states of Lower Saxony and Bremen also said their own security services tasked with policing unconstitutional activity had placed the regional chapters of the AfD’s youth wing under surveillance because of suspected ties to extremists.
(Reporting by Michelle Martin, additional reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Jon Boyle)

1/15/2019 Sen. McConnell accuses Democrats of hypocrisy over border security by OAN Newsroom
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is continuing to question Democrats motives as it relates to the partial government shutdown.
    While speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, McConnell said the Democrat Party’s stance on border wall funding looks as if it would be from members of the far-left.    However, McConnell said it’s party leadership leading the charge to block what the president believes is appropriate for wall funding.
    The Kentucky lawmaker gave his colleagues in the Senate a choice on how they want to approach the shutdown.
    “So, here in the Senate my Democratic colleagues have an important choice to make — they could stand with common sense, with border experts, with federal workers and with their own past voting records, by the way, or they could continue to remain passive spectators complaining from the sidelines as the speaker refuses to negotiate with the White House,” stated McConnell.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leaves the chamber after accusing Democrats
of turning President Donald Trump’s promised border wall into “something evil” to avoid dealing with the security and humanitarian
crisis at the southern border, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    This comes as several Democrats are being accused of flip-flopping on the issue of border security.    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with high profile Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, all supported a physical barrier at the border in 2006.
    McConnell and other Republicans believe Democrats are only changing their stance now because of who is in the White House.    GOP lawmakers also believe they are using the shutdown as fuel for the 2020 presidential election.
    McConnell highlighted Democrats apparent change of tone.
    “Along the way we’ve heard that the new funding of any sort of border barrier, even the kinds that Democrats have supported so recently and so often, would not be — quote — ‘an immorality,’" he stated.    “We’ve heard serious proposals brushed aside with joking offers of one dollar to address the critical issue.”
    Neither side appears to be budging on border wall funding as the two sides look to be billions of dollars a part.    As the record setting shutdown continues and with another migrant caravan on the way from Central America, many wonder whether Republicans or Democrats will be the first to blink.

1/15/2019 French President Emmanuel Macron launches national debate in hopes to end protests by OAN Newsroom
    Yellow vest protesters line the streets of small Normandy town to greet French President Emmanuel Macron as he arrived to deliver a town hall address.
    Tuesday marks the beginning of a three-month long national debate in France over Macron’s economic reform policies, following months of violent protests against the government’s tax hikes.
French Deputy Minister for Environment Emmanuelle Wargon, second right, talks to Yellow Vests protestors before
French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit in Grand Bourgtheroulde, Normandy, Tuesday, Jan.15, 2019. Macron is formally launching a
grand debate” to try to appease the yellow vest movement following weeks of anti-government protests. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
    Macron announced the debate earlier this week, saying he looks forward to hearing feedback from the people of France and hopes some type of compromise can be reached.    However, some protesters are saying the leader’s efforts to restore peace are not enough.
    “I think that the movement, which has got underway now, is truly national — it’s touched the very heart of France, but Macron has not understood that, he has made the French people angry and as history shows, you know what happens when the French people get angry,” stated yellow vest protester Franck Biemy.
    The national debate is expected to focus on a number of policies, including taxes, green energy and citizenship.    The French leader plans on delivering his conclusion on the national debate in April.

1/15/2019 Brexit bedlam: May’s EU divorce deal crushed by 230 votes in parliament by William James, Kylie MacLellan and Elizabeth Piper
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves from the back of 10 Downing Street
in London, Britain, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
    LONDON (Reuters) – British lawmakers defeated Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit divorce deal by a crushing margin on Tuesday, triggering political chaos that could lead to a disorderly exit from the EU or even to a reversal of the 2016 decision to leave.
    After parliament voted 432-202 against her deal, the worst defeat in modern British history, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn promptly called a vote of no confidence in May’s government, to be held at 1900 GMT on Wednesday.
    With the clock ticking down to March 29, the date set in law for Brexit, the United Kingdom is now ensnared in the deepest political crisis in half a century as it grapples with how, or even whether, to exit the European project that it joined in 1973.
    “It is clear that the House does not support this deal, but tonight’s vote tells us nothing about what it does support,” May told parliament, moments after the result was announced.
    “… nothing about how – or even if – it intends to honor the decision the British people took in a referendum parliament decided to hold.”
    More than 100 of May’s own Conservative lawmakers – both Brexit backers and supporters of EU membership – joined forces to vote down the deal.    In doing so, they smashed the previous record defeat for a government, a 166-vote margin, set in 1924.
    The humiliating loss, the first British parliamentary defeat of a treaty since 1864, appeared to catastrophically undermine May’s two-year strategy of forging an amicable divorce with close ties to the EU after the March 29 exit.
    With May vowing to stand by her deal and Labour trying to trigger a national election, parliament is still effectively deadlocked, with no alternative proposal.
    May’s spokesman told reporters that May’s deal could still form the basis of an accord with the EU, but opponents disagreed.
    “This deal is dead,” said Boris Johnson, the Conservative Party’s most prominent Brexiteer, who urged May to go back to Brussels to seek better terms.
    If there was any consolation for May, it was that her internal adversaries appeared set to fight off the attempt to topple her.
    The small Northern Irish DUP party, which props up May’s minority government and refused to back the deal, said it would still stand behind May in the no-confidence vote.    The pro-Brexit Conservatives who were the most vehement opponents of her deal also said they would support her.
    Labour has said if it fails to trigger an election then it will look at the possibility of supporting another referendum.
    The EU said the Brexit deal remained the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal.    Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said there would be no further renegotiation.
    “The risk of a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom has increased with this evening’s vote,” said EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, adding that it would intensify preparations for a no-deal Brexit.
    A Labour Party spokesman said it was becoming more likely that Britain would have to ask the EU to postpone the March 29 departure date required by the Article 50 withdrawal notice.
    But Donald Tusk, the chairman of EU leaders, suggested Britain should now consider reversing Brexit altogether.
    “If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?” he tweeted.
    Sterling rallied more than a cent against the dollar, on some expectations that the scale of the defeat might force lawmakers to pursue other options.
    May said she would reach out to opposition parties to forge a way ahead.    But Corbyn, who wants Labour to be given the chance to negotiate with Brussels, was dismissive.
    “After two years of failed negotiations, the House of Commons has delivered its verdict on her Brexit deal, and that verdict is absolutely decisive,” he said.    “Her governing principle of delay and denial has reached the end of the line.”
    Ever since Britain voted by 52-48 percent to leave the EU in a referendum in June 2016, the political class has been debating how to leave the European project forged by France and Germany after the devastation of World War Two.
    While the country is divided over EU membership, most agree that the world’s fifth largest economy is at a crossroads and that its choices over Brexit will shape the prosperity of future generations.
    “UK assets will continue to be vulnerable to the political volatility and we don’t expect this will subside until a concrete conclusion emerges,” UBS Wealth Management told clients.
    Before the vote, May had told pro-Brexit lawmakers that if her plan was rejected, it was more likely that Britain would not leave the EU at all than that it would leave without a deal.
    Supporters of EU membership cast Brexit as a gigantic mistake that will undermine the West, smash Britain’s reputation as a stable destination for investment and slowly weaken London’s position as a global capital.
    Many opponents of Brexit hope May’s defeat will ultimately lead to another referendum on EU membership, though Brexit backers say that thwarting the will of the 17.4 million who voted for Brexit could radicalize much of the electorate.
    “I became prime minister immediately after that referendum,” May said.    “I believe it is my duty to deliver on their instruction, and I intend to do so.”
    Brexit supporters cast leaving as a way to break free from a Union they see as overly bureaucratic and fast falling behind the leading economic powers of the 21st century, the United States and China.
(Additional reporting by Andrew MacAskill, William Schomberg, James Davey, Costas Pitas, Alistair Smout, Andy Bruce, Kate Holton, David Milliken, Steven Addison and Elisabeth O’Leary; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

1/15/2019 Colombia clears migrant camp as Venezuela exodus continues by Steven Grattan
A Venezuelan migrant family arranges their belongings at a tent inside a temporary humanitarian camp
that is closed by the government, in Bogota, Colombia January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez
    BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombian authorities evacuated a camp that housed Venezuelan immigrants in the capital of Bogota on Tuesday, dismantling a temporary shelter even as the flow of refugees from the crisis-stricken neighboring nation is expected to continue unabated.
    Yellow tents that once housed families were piled into a corner of the football pitch that in November was turned into a temporary shelter for some 600 Venezuelan migrants who had previously been sleeping outside the city’s main bus terminal.
    Carmen Nunez, who turned 58 on Tuesday, cried in front of authorities because she had no idea where to go now.
    “Should I go to the street?” she said, with her walking stick in hand.    “I have no money, but I want to go back to Venezuela, at least there I will have a place to stay.”
    She was offered transportation to the city of Cucuta on the Venezuelan border, but does not have money to return to her home on the Venezuelan coast.    Other migrants stood outside the tightly policed camp entrance with their belongings.
    From the outset, Jan. 15 had been set as the camp’s closure date, partly in response to pressure from Colombians over the growing presence of migrants.
    The United Nations says some 3 million people have left Venezuela since 2015, seeking an escape from a hyperinflationary economic collapse that has put basic food and medicine beyond the reach of most citizens.
    Another 2 million are likely to emigrate in 2019, it estimates.    The vast majority travel by land to Colombia, some on foot, though many continue on to other parts of South America.
    Cristina Velez, Bogota’s Secretary of Social Integration, said in a press conference that the city did not plan to open any more shelters unless there were extraordinary circumstances that warranted doing so.
    “I have no idea what we’re going to do,” said Junior Palacios, 23, from Caracas, who was sitting outside of the evacuated camp with four friends.
    “I don’t want to go back (to Venezuela).    It’s a question of moving forward and building a life here somehow.”
(Reporting by Steven Grattan; editing by Brian Ellsworth and Phil Berlowitz)

1/15/2019 Mueller to limit Cohen testimony in effort to avoid interference in special counsel’s probe by OAN Newsroom
    Special Counsel Robert Mueller will likely restrict the upcoming testimony of President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen.
    The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday reported Cohen will be limited to what he can say, in order to avoid interference with the special counsel’s investigation.
    Cohen is set to appear before the House Oversight Committee before he begins his three-year jail sentence.
    The restrictions are said to apply to all topics covered by the special counsel.
    His lawyer, Lanny Davis, laid-out what Cohen will likely talk about at the hearing, saying his client “expressed his shame for being blindly loyal, ignoring what he called the ‘dirty deeds’ of the man he worked for.”
    Davis adds Cohen “is now drawing a line to the threat of the country, and to his family…and that same man becomes the President of the United States.”
    Many critics of Cohen question how his testimony would be taken as fact when he has a lengthy history of lying.
[The above statements lets us know that the rat really says that Mueller is protecting his information which is no collusion.    We know who has been leaking information to the fake news to justify his 2 year witch hunt process.].

1/15/2019 Mueller points out Manafort’s lies and plea deal violations in court filing by OAN Newsroom
    The special counsel files evidence outlining why he believes Paul Manafort violated his plea agreement.
    In a heavily redacted filing on Tuesday, Robert Mueller laid-out a series of lies told by Manafort.
    The falsehoods are in regard to payments, finances, and contacts with his business associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, who the special counsel has recently taken an interest.
    Last week, Manafort’s team accidentally revealed key information in a court filing showing he shared sensitive information with the Russian entrepreneur.
    Ranking Senate Intelligence Committee member Mark Warner questioned why the former-manager of the Trump 2016 Campaign would offer Kilimnik “secret proprietary polling data.”
    Manafort’s lawyers have responded to the allegations saying any incorrect statements were inadvertent.
    They also claim Manafort has given the government valuable information that should be taken into consideration.
[Manafort will be punished either way and he has decided that not to be a rat for Mueller.].

1/16/2019 Oil up $1.60 to $52.11, DOW up 156 to 24,066

1/16/2019 Honduran Border Police arrest organizer of new migrant caravan for warrant on rape charge by OAN Newsroom
26-year-old Juan Carlos Molina, an organizers and promoter of the latest migrant caravan from Honduras,
was arrested in San Pedro Sula in connection with an investigation into alleged rape. (Photo/police handout/
    The new migrant caravan from Honduras is off to a bad start after one of its leaders was arrested for having a rape warrant dating back to 2015.
    Juan Molina, who was identified as one of the caravan’s main organizers, was reportedly caught at a national police checkpoint and taken into custody on Monday.     President Trump responded to the news of the latest migration effort by slamming Central American countries for doing nothing to stop the trend.
    “Honduras is not helping us, they could stop it, we send them hundreds of millions of dollars a year — El Salvador, Honduras and other places…Guatemala — hundreds of millions, but they don’t help us like so many nations, we help them, they don’t help us,” he stated.
    The president repeated his promise to tackle the issue of mass migration from Central America by cutting off funding to the countries that don’t take action to stop new caravans from forming.
U.S.-bound migrants walk past security forces who are stopping some vehicles carrying migrants to check their documents in Cofradia,
Honduras, early Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. Yet another caravan of Central American migrants set out overnight from
Honduras, seeking to reach the U.S. border following the same route followed by thousands on at least three caravans last year. (AP Photo/Delmer Martinez)
    Meanwhile, Border Patrol agents at the Yuma sector are remaining busy as nearly 30 undocumented migrants required medical attention over the weekend.
    In a statement Monday, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) said migrants who became ill or injured during the journey from Mexico to the U.S. sought treatment in Arizona.    Officials cited treatment cases for serious infections, heart attacks, fevers, and even gunshot wounds.
    CBP’s commissioner added, the agency is facing an “unprecedented crisis” that is putting “vulnerable population” at risk.    This comes following the recent death of two migrant children, who died while in Border Patrol custody.

1/16/2016 Critics accuse De Blasio of communism for plan to seize private property in N.Y.C by OAN Newsroom
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. (AP/Photo/Hans Pennink)
    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is coming under fire for his plan to seize privately owned-buildings.    His comments last week are now making headlines after city officials revealed they are actively looking to seize control of up to 40 structures.
    The decision will be made by a team of inspectors and law enforcement agents, and ownership of those buildings would then be handed over to community non-profit organizations.
    De Blasio has claimed the plan is designed to protect tenants from landlords who make the property unlivable.
    “If we stop the illegal harassment and the pushing out of law abiding tenants, it is a fundamental part of how we change the affordable housing picture in this city,” he stated.
    However, De Blasio’s opponent in the 2017 mayoral race, Assembly member Nicole Malliotakis, has blasted the plan as “straight communism.”    Malliotakis is the daughter of Cuban immigrants and said her first reaction to this plan was asking the question: “Is this communist Cuba?
[Back on 10/10/2018 the idiot New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio allowed NYC birth certificates to offer third gender category by creating the ‘X category’ for individuals who do not classify their gender as male or female, so the antichristian who are against the creator God are claiming that that they have created a new gender, a new entity, and a new Genesis.
    God made male and female, humans and animals only, anything other than that are freaks of mankind's nature, and I hope they come back to haunt him

1/16/2019 NASA contractor forced to lay off 20% of staff amid government shutdown by OAN Newsroom
The NASA logo is pictured. (AP/Photo)
    A Seattle-based NASA contractor is forced to lay off nearly 20-percent of his staff amid the partial government shutdown.
    Tethers Unlimited CEO Robert Hoyt reportedly laid off 12 engineers after the government failed to pay the company one million dollars for work completed last year.
    Hoyt said the lack of funding has also stopped him from being able to lease a bigger office, because federal employees are being furloughed, so the company is unable to process invoices.
    “It’s it’s a big shock to the system, it’s painful for the employees we had to let go, you know, painful for us,” said Hoyt.    “It’s really not easy to make those kind of kind of decisions, you know, but what we’ve got to do to keep the company viable through that through these kind of manufactured crises.”
    Tethers Unlimited has contracts with NASA and the Department of Defense, and focuses on nanosatellites and in-space manufacturing.

1/16/2019 Macron’s party reclaims top spot from Le Pen in European vote poll
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks without his suit coat during a meeting with mayors
from rural Normandy as part of the launching of the "Great National Debate" designed to find ways to
calm social unrest in the country, in Grand Bourgtheroulde, France, January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool
    PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron’s party moved back ahead of Marine Le Pen’s far-right party in a poll of voting intentions for the May 2019 European parliament elections, the latest survey showing signs of a rebound in Macron’s popularity.
    An Ifop poll published on Wednesday showed Macron’s centrist movement with 23 percent of voting intentions compared to 18 percent in the last poll in early December while Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (National Rally, or RN) — formerly the National Front — fell to 21 percent from 24 percent previously.
    It is the first time Macron’s Republique en Marche (Republic On the Move) party has come ahead of the RN since late October, when Le Pen jumped ahead of Macron for the first time.
    A number of other polls have shown a rebound in Macron’s popularity in the last few weeks, in a sign parts of the public approve of the harder stance he has taken against “yellow-vest” protesters after riots in Paris and other French cities.
    Macron decried the violence of a “hateful mob” in his New Year address, while his government has branded the protesters agitators.
    On Sunday, Le Pen launched her campaign for the May 26 election with an appeal to the “yellow vest” movement that has rattled the government.
    The increase in voting intentions for Macron’s party coincides with a decline for the conservative Republicans party, which has lost 5 points since August, to 10 percent.    It is followed by the far-left France Insoumise at 9.5 percent.
    The hard-right Debout la France is on 7.5 percent, while the Greens are seen getting 6.5 percent of the vote and the Socialists, which held the French presidency less than two years ago, trail behind at 4 percent.
(Reporting by Michel Rose; editing by Richard Lough)

1/16/2019 Brazil, Argentina leaders step up pressure on Venezuela’s Maduro
Argentina's President Mauricio Macri is welcomed by Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro during
a meeting in Brasilia, Brazil January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
    BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri said after their first meeting on Wednesday that they agreed on their opposition to Venezuela’s authoritarian government, with Macri calling Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro a “dictator.”
    “Our cooperation with Argentina on the Venezuelan question it the clearest example of a convergence of positions and shared values,” Bolsonaro said.    Since taking office on Jan. 1, Bolsonaro has adopted a tougher stance on Venezuela and a closer alignment with the United States than previous Brazilian governments.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

1/16/2016 Speaker Pelosi asks President Trump to postpone State of the Union address by OAN Newsroom
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is asking President Trump to postpone his upcoming State of the Union address due to the ongoing partial government shutdown.
    In a letter to the president Wednesday, Pelosi pointed out that the Secret Service, which is the lead agency responsible for planning and implementing security at such events, is currently not being funded.
    She then suggested they work together to determine a suitable date for the address after the government reopens if the shutdown doesn’t end this week.
A portion of a letter sent to President Donald Trump from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019 in Washington. Pelosi has asked President Trump to postpone his State of the Union address
to the nation, set for Jan. 29, until the government reopens. (AP Photo/Wayne Partlow)
    Pelosi also said the president should consider delivering his address in writing to Congress on January 29, 2019.
    Donald Trump Jr. spoke out against Pelosi’s attempt to delay the speech.    In a statement issued to the Daily Caller Wednesday, Don Jr. said Pelosi is terrified his father will get another chance to speak unfiltered about the Democrat Party’s obstruction.
    He also said the house speaker’s party becomes more of a political loser as the president continues to shine a spotlight on the human tragedies from its open border policies.

1/16/2016 White House considers oil embargo on Venezuela by OAN Newsroom
    The U.S. is reportedly considering imposing sanctions on Venezuela’s oil sector.    According to reports, White House officials warned U.S. refiners about a possible oil embargo against Venezuelan crude-exports.
    Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA would reportedly be the primary target of new sanctions.
    Chevron, Valero, and PBF Energy are the biggest consumers of Venezuelan crude in the U.S., and could be affected by the possible move.
Oil wells in the Maracaibo Lake, in the west of Venezuela. (AP)
    This comes as the White House has refused to recognize Nicolas Maduro’s presidential reelection.
    “We’ve imposed tough new sanctions on Nicolas Maduro’s sham of a government,” stated Vice President Mike Pence.    “Just this week, we unequivocally condemned the arrest of Juan Guido, the president of the National Assembly, after he invoked protections under Venezuela’s constitution and declared Maduro’s presidency illegitimate.”
    Experts have warned a oil embargo on Venezuela could push U.S. oil prices up, resulting in higher input costs for U.S. refiners and higher revenues for U.S. drillers.

1/16/2019 Sen. Rubio introduces privacy bill to regulate big tech companies by OAN Newsroom
    A new privacy bill is being considered in the Senate to regulate big tech giants like Google and Facebook as part of an effort to protect the personal data of users.
    Republican Senator Marco Rubio introduced the legislation Wednesday, which would task the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with recommending national rules to Congress for big tech corporations.
    Once the FTC provides its recommendations, Congress would then be responsible for finalizing those rules by passing legislation.    If the FTC guidelines are not approved by Congress within two-years, then the agency would be able to write its own rules.
In this file photo, Sen. Marco Rubio speaks in National Harbor, Md. (Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo)
    Senator Rubio has warned about what he has called the “weaponization of information” online, and has stressed the need for regulation.
    “Lets begin with the fact you are an individual and you’re up for a job or someone is unhappy with you, and someone who wants to cost you the job, or opportunity, or wants revenge finds a way to post a video of you doing or saying something you never said,” explained the Republican senator.
    Under the proposal, any new FTC rules created as a result of the bill would preempt certain state privacy regulations.    The move would fulfill a major request from tech industry groups.

1/16/2019 Hours after U.S. troops killed in Syria, Pence claims Islamic State defeated by Lesley Wroughton
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks to the news media outside the West Wing with House Minority Leader
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) after a meeting with President Donald Trump and congressional leadership about the
partial government shutdown at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Islamic State has been defeated in Syria, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday, hours after American soldiers were killed in a northern Syria bomb attack claimed by the militant group.
    Pence did not mention the deaths in an address to 184 chiefs of U.S. diplomatic missions gathered in Washington from around the world for a speech that sounded more like a campaign rally than a strategic overview of U.S. foreign policy.
    “The caliphate has crumbled and ISIS has been defeated,” Pence told the U.S. ambassadors and other senior American diplomats, referring to Islamic State.
    Earlier, a spokeswoman for Pence’s office, Alyssa Farah, said the vice president had been briefed about the soldiers’ deaths and expressed his sympathy.
    There were mixed reports about how many Americans died in the blast in the northern Syria town of Manbij, with one U.S. official saying four were killed while others said two had died.
    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said 20 people were killed, including five U.S. troops.
    A U.S. official who declined to be named said four U.S. troops had been killed and three wounded in the blast, which an Islamic State-affiliated site said was the work of a suicide bomber.    A war monitor said 19 people in total had died in the blast.
    The attack comes nearly a month after U.S. President Donald Trump’s surprise Dec. 19 announcement that he would withdraw 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria after concluding that Islamic State had been defeated there.    His decision led to the resignation of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who cited policy differences with the president for his leaving.
    Some U.S. diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were surprised and dismayed by the speech by Pence, who often paused during his remarks as if to invite applause that appeared to grow fainter as he spoke.
    “We’re not used to being at campaign rallies,” said one U.S. official.
    Despite talks of a second leaders’ summit between Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, Pence acknowledged that efforts to convince Pyonyang to give up its nuclear arsenal had not made headway.
    “While the president is promising dialogue with Chairman Kim we still await concrete steps by North Korea to dismantle the nuclear weapons that threaten our people and our allies in the region,” he said.
    The vice president also criticized China’s “unfair” trade practices and loans to developing countries that pushed up their debt levels as it tries to gain greater influence in the world.
    “The truth is that too often in recent years China has chosen a path that disregards the laws and norms that have kept the world state prosperous for more than half a century,” he said.    “The days of the United States looking the other way are over,” he added.
    Pence said the administration’s foreign policy was based on Trump’s “America First” agenda.    “No longer will the United States government pursue grandiose, unrealistic notions at the expense of American people,” he said.
    He acknowledged that Trump’s foreign policy was “different from what the world has come to expect” and that the United States faced different threats than during the Cold War.
    “Today we are not up against one super power but several great powers competing with us for preeminence across the world,” he said, saying the United States faced a “wolf pack” of rogue states including Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. (Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Tom Brown)

1/16/2019 White House Press Secretary dismisses impact of government shutdown on economy by OAN Newsroom
    White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders recently reaffirmed the Trump administration’s economic stance, dismissing claims the partial government shutdown will severely hurt the economy.
    While speaking in front of the White House Wednesday, Sanders downplayed how much the shutdown — now in its 26th day — is impacting economic growth.    She pointed to the policies that have put the U.S. economy in the current situation that it is in, and claimed the long term out look is still strong.
    “I know there has been some impact, but at the same time, again, we are focused on the long term economic principles that the president has laid out, whether it is through deregulation, tax cuts that have helped give us the booming economy that we have,” stated Sanders.    “We know that wages are still rising and that unemployment is still at the lowest that it has been, historically, and those are good things for this country and things that we are going to build on.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders talks with reporters outside
the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    This comes after White House Economic adviser Kevin Hassett acknowledged earlier in the week that the shutdown may impact the economy a little more than previously estimated.    He said the longer the shutdown goes on, the worse it will be in the short term for growth.    However, Hassett believes everything will even out if the shutdown ends before the end of the quarter.
    Meanwhile, something that will likely help the U.S. economy greatly is a trade deal with China.    After the two sides had mid-level talks last week, we are roughly two-weeks away from China’s top negotiator heading to the U.S. to meet with Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
    Markets have been positive in January in anticipation of a potential deal, which is something financial experts believe will continue if a deal is reached.
    “But I do predict, if there was a resolution between the U.S. and China related to trade, we would see a surge in investment sentiment,” said Blackrock CEO Larry Fink.
    If a deal is reached between the world’s two largest economies, it would be considered by many as President Trump’s biggest victory to date.    The high-level meeting between the two sides is slated for January 30, 2019.

1/17/2019 Oil up $0.20 to $52.31, DOW up 142 to 24,207

1/17/2019 Pelosi urges State of Union delay due to the shutdown by Eliza Collins, David Jackson and Michael Collin, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked President Donald Trump to reschedule his State of the Union address this month if the government remains shuttered – or deliver it in writing.
    “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 reopened 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 in a letter to Trump on Wednesday.
    The partial government shutdown is in its 26th day, the longest in U.S. history.    Trump demanded $5.7 billion to pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and vowed to veto any legislation that does not include the sum.    Democrats oppose a wall and refuse to appropriate the money.
    The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.
    Pelosi cited Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s designation of State of the Union addresses as a “National Special Security Event,” which requires a high level of security.    The Secret Service is responsible for such events, but the agency, a part of the Department of Homeland Security, is affected by the shutdown.
    After sending the letter, Pelosi said the State of the Union requires hundreds of people to work out logistics and security, and most of them have been furloughed or are working without pay because of the shutdown.
    “The point is security,” she said.
    Trump “can make (the speech) from the Oval Office if he wants,” she said.
    Nielsen took issue with Pelosi’s concerns about security.
    “The Department of Homeland Security and the US Secret Service are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union,” she wrote on Twitter.    “We thank the Service for their mission focus and dedication and for all they do each day to secure our homeland.”     Written State of the Union-type addresses were once presidential practice.
    The nation’s first two presidents, George Washington and John Adams, delivered annual messages to Congress in person.    Successor Thomas Jefferson began submitting his in writing in 1801, a routine that continued for more than a century.
    President Woodrow Wilson revived the practice of in-person speeches, his first coming in 1913.
    The U.S. Constitution says presidents “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union,” remarks formally known as the “Annual Message” for decades.    President Franklin Roosevelt began describing the speeches as the “state of the Union,” a term officially adopted in 1947 during Harry Truman’s administration.
    The last president to submit only a written State of the Union was lame duck Jimmy Carter in January 1981, four days before he left office.
    Trump met Wednesday at the White House with the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of House members, to discuss the shutdown.

1/17/2019 Trump’s new missile defense strategy eyes space-based sensors by Phil Stewart
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before he meets U.S. political and military leaders
during an unannounced visit to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump is due to unveil a revamped U.S. missile defense strategy on Thursday that looks at ways to boost America’s security, including by possibly deploying a new layer of space-based sensors to detect and track enemy missiles.
    The Missile Defense Review will also recommends studying experimental technologies, including prospects for space-based weaponry that might be able to shoot down enemy missiles — a throwback to Ronald Reagan’s so-called “Star Wars” initiative in the 1980s.
    “Space, I think, is the key to the next step of missile defense,” a senior Trump administration official told reporters ahead of the document’s release on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
    “A space-based layer of sensors is something we are looking at to help get early warning and tracking and discrimination of missiles when they are launched.”
    The official stressed that the viability of space-based missile defense weaponry was only being studied and no decisions had been made.
    The investments come on top of previously announced U.S. plans to increase the number of ground-based interceptors over the next several years, hiking the number positioned at Fort Greely, Alaska to 64 from 44.
    U.S. military officials have long stressed that America’s missile defenses are primarily designed to counter attacks from countries with more limited arsenals, like North Korea, which U.S. intelligence officials believe is still advancing its nuclear program despite a halt to missile launches last year.
    For Trump, who is trying to revive efforts to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear arsenal, the report’s release comes at an awkward moment.
    Three North Korean officials, including the top envoy involved in talks with the United States, are booked on a flight to Washington, suggesting possible movement toward a second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to South Korean media.
    It was unclear to what extent the report would single out North Korea.    But the senior Trump administration official suggested it would at least be mentioned.
    Trump, who is due to speak at the Pentagon at 11 a.m. (1600 GMT), declared in June that the North no longer posed a nuclear threat, buoyed by optimism following his landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
    Pentagon officials contend that U.S. missiles defenses are too few to be able to counter a first-strike on the U.S. homeland by a major nuclear power, like Russia or China.    Washington hopes those countries will instead be deterred from attacks by America’s nuclear arsenal.
    Still, Russia views U.S. missile defense advances as a threat and Trump’s report is likely to stoke tensions with Moscow.
    China, in turn, has also alarmed the Pentagon with advances in super-fast “hypersonic” technology, which could allow Beijing to field missiles that are far harder to detect.
    In a report earlier this week that singled out the hypersonic threat, the Pentagon warned China’s military was “on the verge of fielding some of the most modern weapon systems in the world.”
    “In some areas, it already leads the world,” the report said.
    U.S. officials, including Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin, believe a space-based sensor layer could help detect missiles moving at hypersonic speeds.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

1/17/2019 Protesters, Democrats attack President Trump’s EPA nominee at confirmation hearing by OAN Newsroom
    Leftist protesters recently interrupted the confirmation hearing for President Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
    Andrew Wheeler appeared on Capitol Hill Wednesday to state his case for permanently filling the administrator seat vacated by Scott Pruitt last July.
    During the hearing, Wheeler faced environmentalist backlash not only from the protesters in the crowd, but also from Democrats like Bernie Sanders, who looked to b>paint him as a climate change denier.    However, Wheeler defended his stance on rolling-back Obama-era regulations by saying reforms are necessary to help businesses and the economy grow.
A protester is removed by Capitol police officers as Andrew Wheeler testifies at a
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing to be the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency,
on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Wheeler said he’s committed to protecting the environment, citing his work to clean up toxic sites that previous administrations left untouched.
    “I am honored and grateful that President Trump has nominated me for the position of administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency,” he stated.    “There is no more important responsibility than protecting human heath and the environment — it is a responsibility I take very seriously.”
    With the Republican majority in the Senate, Wheeler’s appointment is expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

1/17/2019 Trump admin. unveils new missile defense plan by OAN Newsroom
    The Trump administration is unveiling its new strategy to protect the U.S. and it allies from missile threats.
    While speaking at Pentagon Thursday morning, President Trump said “today marks a new era in America’s missile defense program.”
President Donald Trump speaks about American missile defense doctrine, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, at the Pentagon. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    He outlined a number of changes that will be made to the country’s defense capabilities, noting that the goal is to be able to detect and destroy any missile launched against the U.S.
    President Trump also said America must recognize space is a new war fighting domain and create a space-based missile defense system.
    The president added, that while the U.S. would terminate any missile launches from hostile powers, he insists on fair burden sharing with our allies.

1/17/2019 White House announces President Trump’s first set of judicial nominees for 2019 by OAN Newsroom
    Although the government remains partially shutdown, President Trump has unveiled his first set of judicial nominees for the year.    In a press release on Wednesday, the White House announced six district court nominees that, if confirmed, would fill federal vacancies in Louisiana, Texas, North Dakota, and Arizona.
    This first wave of nominees consists of three district court judges in the state of Texas, specifically Mark Pittman, who serves on the court of appeals in Texas Second District.    By recommendation of Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Senator John Cornyn, President Trump also nominated Wes Hendrix and Sean Jordan.
    The remaining nominees include Greg Guidry of Louisiana, Michael Liburdi of Arizona, and Peter Welte of North Dakota — all of whom have conservative leanings on the bench.
President Donald Trump is pictured. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)
    The Senate Judiciary Committee must now approve these nominees before they go for a full vote in the Senate.     In his first two-years, President Trump saw a record number of his federal appeals court nominees confirmed before roughly 90 of those nominees expired at the start of the new Congress.    However, they still have a chance of sitting on the federal bench as Republican senators have allowed the president to re-nominate them later this year.

1/17/2019 HHS: Number of unaccompanied minors in U.S. grew by 450% after DACA by OAN Newsroom
    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released alarming statistics showing the burden the DACA program has placed on the agency.
    According to the HHS, detention centers saw a 450-percent increase in the number of unaccompanied migrant children after DACA was implemented in 2012.
File-This Dec. 13, 2018, file photo shows migrant teens walking inside the Tornillo detention camp
in Tornillo, Texas. The nonprofit group running what was once the nation’s largest detention camp for migrant children confirmed it is
closing down the facility and the last kids left on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton, File)
    Statistics show around 8,000 migrant children were provided with government shelter by HHS in 2011, but that number jumped to more than 44,000 following DACA.
    The increase came at a big cost to American taxpayers as HHS reported housing just one migrant child costs around $256 a day.
    The U.S. is currently housing around 10,000 unaccompanied migrant children.

1/17/2019 Eight dead in car bomb at Colombian police academy by Nelson Bocanegra and Luis Jaime Acosta
Police and security personnel work at the scene where a car bomb exploded, according
to authorities, in Bogota, Colombia January 17, 2019. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez
    BOGOTA (Reuters) – A car bomb exploded at a police academy in Colombia’s capital Bogota on Thursday, killing at least eight people and wounding 10 in what the authorities condemned as terrorism.
    The bomb at the General Santander School in the south of the capital shattered windows of apartments in the vicinity.    The vehicle rammed into the academy grounds before the explosion, witnesses told reporters.
    President Ivan Duque called the bomb a “miserable terrorist act…against our police” and said he was returning to the capital from the west of the country, where he had been attending a meeting on security.
    He said he had ordered security forces to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.    It was not immediately clear whether the attacker or attackers managed to escape, or died at the scene.
    The Defense Ministry said in a statement that eight people were killed and 10 wounded, but did not say if the casualties were police or civilians.
    A police helicopter hovered over the area and family members of cadets at the academy were gathered, many crying as they sought information.    Ambulances were still leaving the scene.
    Images on social media showed the remains of a vehicle in flames in the parking area of the police school, and emergency responders at the scene.
    “It was a car bomb that unfortunately broke through the security checkpoints,” Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez told reporters.
    There was no word yet on who might be behind the explosion.
    Car bombs were frequent during decades of civil war between the state and various leftist rebel groups, as well as in the violence involving the Medellin drug cartel led by dead drug lord Pablo Escobar.
    The worst of the war, which left some 260,000 dead and millions displaced, ended when the government reached a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016.
    The last major attack was in January 2018 when the largest active rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), detonated a bomb in the northern port city of Barranquilla, killing five police officers and injuring dozens.
    The ELN, made up of some 2,000 fighters and considered a terrorist organization by the United States, have been in talks with the government since February 2017 to end the conflict.
    Duque, who took office in August, has conditioned peace talks on the ELN suspending hostilities and releasing all hostages.
    On Wednesday, the ELN said in a statement it had kidnapped three crewmen of a civil helicopter it “neutralized” last week.    In response, Colombia’s High Peace Commissioner, Miguel Ceballos, said the ELN “was moving further and further away from the possibility of dialogue.”
    There was no indication the ELN was behind the attack in Bogota or that the kidnapping was linked.
(Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra and Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Frances Kerry and Angus Berwick; Editing by Alistair Bell)

1/17/2019 New caravan crosses Guatemala, reaches Mexico en route to U.S. by OAN Newsroom
    As Republican lawmakers and the president call for border security, another caravan of Central American migrants has reached Mexico on its way to the U.S. According to reports, a group of roughly 500 migrants have arrived at the Guatemala-Mexican border.
    Meanwhile, the core group of migrants of some 1,700 people is still pressing north through Guatemala.
Honduran migrants walk along the roadside through Esquipulas, Guatemala,
as they make their way toward the U.S. border, early Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
    This new caravan left Honduras Tuesday, and has since grown in size as many parents with small children have joined the group along the way.
    Honduras has tried to restrict the departures of children from the country, while the nation’s ambassador to Mexico is calling the caravan “a failure.”
    “In terms of the original purpose, which was to request asylum in the United States, the caravan is a definite failure,” stated Ambassador Alden Rivera.    "Not one single Honduran has been interviewed by the U.S. government, even though around 1,500 registered in the book to request an interview by the U.S. government.”
    The Honduran ambassador also accused organizers of the caravan of seeking to discredit the governments of Central American nations.

1/17/2019 President Trump postpones Nancy Pelosi’s trip abroad due to the government shutdown by OAN Newsroom
    In what appears to be a retaliatory move, President Trump is postponing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s upcoming trip abroad in light of the government shutdown.
    In a letter he sent the speaker Thursday, the president informed Pelosi he is rescheduling her seven-day excursion to Brussels, Afghanistan and Egypt just hours before she was set to depart.
    The president said “I am sure the speaker would agree postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate.”
    He said her presence would be better served in Washington, where she can work with him to reach a deal on border security and ending the shutdown.
    The president said if Pelosi wants to make the trip by flying commercial then that is totally her prerogative.
    Before sending the letter, the president spoke at the Pentagon and, again, called on Speaker Pelosi to come to the negotiating table to end the government shutdown.
    During the event Thursday, the president said the government remains shutdown because radical Democrats refuse to approve border security funding.    He called the situation at the border a “matter of critical national security.”
    President Trump also offered condolences to the families of Americans killed in Syria during a suicide attack Wednesday, saying we will never forget their sacrifice.

1/17/2019 Sen. Harris to vote ‘no’ on President Trump’s attorney general nominee by OAN Newsroom
    In what many see as a way to prop up a possible 2020 presidential run, California Senator Kamala Harris is claiming she will vote “no” on attorney general nominee William Barr.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. questions Attorney General nominee William Barr as he testifies before a
Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    In a statement Thursday, Harris said Barr won’t defend independent investigations from attacks and ensure equal protection under the law for all Americans.    She cited a number of areas where she and Barr appear to disagree.
    This comes after Barr’s two-day confirmation hearings wrapped up on Wednesday.    He is widely expected to be confirmed as Republicans hold a majority in the Senate.
    Harris has repeatedly taken opposing positions to the president’s agenda.

1/17/2019 President Trump takes another dig at Pelosi after canceling her trip abroad due to shutdown by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump is taking another dig at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after he postponed her three-country trip abroad due to the government shutdown.
    In a tweet on Friday, the president questioned why Pelosi would want to leave the country when 800,00 federal employees are not getting paid.    He also jokingly reassured the House speaker that foreigners will still be able to immigrate to the U.S. under his administration’s proposed reforms, and asked if someone could “explain to Nancy and her big donors in wine country that people working on farms will have easy access in!
    Trump tweet: “Why would Nancy Pelosi leave the Country with other Democrats on a seven day excursion when 800,000 great people are not getting paid.    Also, could somebody please explain to Nancy & her 'big donors' in wine country that people working on farms (grapes) will have easy access in!
    The tweet comes after President Trump prevented Pelosi from using a military plane to travel overseas for a seven-day excursion to Brussels, Afghanistan and Egypt just moments before she was set to depart.
    In a letter addressed to the House speaker on Thursday, the president told her that her presence would be better served in Washington, where she can work with him to reach a deal on border security and end the shutdown.    He told her if she still wanted to take the trip then she can fly commercial [Which means she would have to go coach live everyone else.].
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
    Pelosi was reportedly on the tarmac when she was informed about the news, while several Democrats were on a bus heading to Joint Base Andrews when they were forced to turn around.
    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff was one of the top ranking Democrat members that was expected to join Pelosi on the trip, and he didn’t appear to be too happy when he returned to Capitol Hill.
[He needed to stay to try to help determine who was the most corrupt in the FISA corruption in the Hillary campaign.].
    We believe this is completely inappropriate by the president,” he told reporters.    “We’re not going to allow the President of the United States to tell the Congress it can’t fulfill its oversight responsibilities and can’t ensure that our troops have what they need, whether our government is opened or closed.”
    However, Pelosi is not the only one being targeted as the White House has announced all congressional trips overseas have been canceled indefinitely until the government reopens.
    The president also announced he will no longer be sending a delegation to the World Economic Forum in Davos out of respect for the federal workers.
    Despite media speculation, the White House confirmed the president’s decision to postpone Pelosi’s trip was not a tit-for-tat move over her request for the president to postpone his State of the Union address.

1/17/2019 Michael Cohen reconsidering testifying before House, says adviser by OAN Newsroom
    Doubts are surfacing on whether Michael Cohen will testify before Congress next month.    On Thursday, one of Cohen’s advisers said he’s reconsidering the idea, citing safety concerns for himself and his family.
    The House Oversight Committee called on him to testify last week in one of their first orders of business since beginning the new congressional session.
    If he does appear before the panel, reports say Robert Mueller will likely restrict what Cohen can say to avoid interfering with the special counsel’s investigation.
FILE – In this Dec. 7, 2018 file photo, Michael Cohen, former lawyer to
President Donald Trump, leaves his apartment building in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
    His lawyer, Lanny Davis, laid out what Cohen will likely talk about at the hearing. “In open court he expressed his shame of being blindly loyal, ignoring — what he called — the dirty deeds of the man that he worked for,” said Davis. “He, now, is drawing a line to the threat to the country and to his family, now we see in a personal attack, when that same man becomes president of the United States and that’s the story you can expect he will tell before Mr. Cummings.” Many of Cohen’s critics are questioning how his testimony could be taken as fact when he has a lengthy history of lying. His appearance is set for February 7, 2019.
[Lanny Jesse Davis, an American political operative, lawyer, consultant, lobbyist, author, and television commentator.    He is the co-founder and partner of the law firm of Davis Goldberg & Galper PLLC, and co-founder and partner of the public relations firm Trident DMG.    He represented Cohen when he pleaded guilty to tax fraud, bank fraud, and violation of campaign finance laws on August 21, 2018.    Davis has been a regular television commentator and political and legal analyst for MSNBC, CNN, CNBC and network television news programs.    He currently has a column called "Purple Nation" that appears regularly in a variety of publications spanning the political spectrum, including The Hill, The Huffington Post, and The Daily Caller.    Maybe we found the leaker.].

1/17/2018 Sen. Graham meets with Turkish president to discuss latest developments in Syria by OAN Newsroom
    Republican Senator Lindsey Graham traveled to Turkey to meet with the country’s president over the latest military developments in Syria.
    The South Carolina Senator held talks with Tayyip Erdogan Friday to discuss the Trump administration’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria.    The Turkish leader applauded the move after repeatedly demanding Washington remove U.S.-backed Kurdish forces from northern Syria.
    Turkey has labeled the Kurds as terrorists, and said their presence on the Syrian-Turkish border poses a national security threat.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham
shake hands before a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. Erdogan and Graham has discussed the situation
in Syria as the United States prepares to withdraw troops. (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)
    Turkey’s foreign ministry spokesman — Hami Aksoy — said the two leaders discussed maintaining bilateral relations despite recent tensions.
    The Trump administration has threatened to impose economic sanctions on Turkey if it brings any harm to the Kurds.

1/17/2019 Medical marijuana goes on sale in Ohio by OAN Newsroom
    After months of delays, four dispensaries around the state of Ohio have officially begun selling medical marijuana to patients.    The program was supposed to launch in September of 2018, but was postponed in order for cultivating and dispensing permits to be finalized.
    Ynez Henningsen was the first people to buy medical marijuana in Ohio. Henningsen has multiple sclerosis and is looking to treat her symptoms.
    “I feel like this is a game changer, you know, not just for me, but for all of Ohio patients, because now for the first time, in this state, you can purchase cannabis and know exactly what you’re getting,” she explained.
Marine Corp. veteran Alex Griffith, right, of Cincinnati, Ohio, watches as his prescription
is bagged on the first day of patient sales of Ohio’s Medical Marijuana program at Cresco Labs CY+ dispensary
in Wintersville, Ohio, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
    Ohio’s medical marijuana law passed in 2016 and was signed into law by then-Governor John Kasich.    It authorizes the use of cannabis for patients with any of 21 specific conditions, including Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.    All patients will have to register with the State Board of Pharmacy, and get a recommendation from a physician.
    According to Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP), 8.7 pounds of marijuana were sold on the very first day of sales.    This generated roughly $75,000 in revenue.
    Nearly 60 medical marijuana dispensaries will eventually open statewide.    Along with revenue, experts hope medical marijuana will help with the opioid crisis as Ohio has some of the nation’s highest rates of opioid-related overdose deaths in the nation.

1/17/2019 U.S. Navy considers sending aircraft carrier to Taiwan Strait by OAN Newsroom
    The U.S. Navy is considering sending an aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait despite growing Chinese military aggression in the region.
    While speaking Thursday, Admiral John Richardson dismissed threats from Beijing by explaining that the U.S. has a right to access international waterways.
    This could be the first time in over a decade that an aircraft carrier is dispatched to the Taiwan Strait, where China has built up a defense system to strike enemy ships.
    The U.S. faced backlash from Beijing last year, when it allowed several warships to pass through the strait.
In this file photo, Adm. John Richardson, chief of Naval Operations of the U.S. Navy, speaks during a news
conference with Philippine Armed Forces Chief Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. in suburban Quezon city, Philippines.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)
    Taiwan is currently conducting live fire drills in the region, and is closely monitoring China’s movements.
    “We have been using radar to closely monitor any unidentified aircrafts and military movements from China,” stated Taiwanese fighter pilot Li Yi-h-Hsiu.    “Our Ministry of National Defense will dispatch us to closely watch China’s movement from the air.”
    Admiral Richardson recently visited China, where he encouraged officials to uphold international law and to stop viewing U.S. warships in the strait as a threat.

1/18/2019 Oil down $0.24 to $52.07, DOW up 163 to 24,370

1/18/2019 Nearly 1,000 Central American migrants in new caravans enter Mexico by Sofia Menchu
Migrants from Honduras, part of a new caravan from Central America trying to reach the United States,
wait to be processed in an immigration facility in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, January 17, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas
    TECUN UMAN, Guatemala (Reuters) – Almost 1,000 Central American migrants entered southern Mexico on Thursday in a test of the new government’s pledge to manage an ongoing exodus fueled by violence and poverty that has strained relations with the Trump administration.
    Mexico’s National Migration Institute said 969 migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua crossed into Ciudad Hidalgo just days after new U.S.-bound caravans of people set off from Central America.
    Caravans from Central America have inflamed the debate over U.S. immigration policy, with U.S. President Donald Trump using the migrants to try to secure backing for his plan to build a border wall on the frontier with Mexico.
    Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is pursuing a “humanitarian” approach to the problem, vowing to stem the flow of people by finding jobs for the migrants.    In exchange, he wants Trump to help spur economic development in the region.
    The U.S. government has been partially shut down for more than three weeks as Democrats resist Trump’s demand that Congress provide $5.7 billion to fund his planned wall.
    Mexican officials put wrist bands on the migrants as they entered the country to monitor the flow of people.    The bands must be kept until the migrants register with authorities.
    Once registered, migrants who met the requirements to stay would be issued humanitarian visas, allowing them to work in Mexico or continue to the U.S. border, said Ana Laura Martinez de Lara, director general of migratory control and verification.
    Those who entered Mexico at the official border crossing had done so in a “very orderly” and respectful manner, in contrast to clashes that took place at the frontier in October when a larger caravan began crossing from Guatemala, she said.
    Some of the migrants expected to stay in Mexico to find work but it was too early to say how many, she said.
    Martinez de Lara said approximately 700 people were still waiting to cross into Mexico from Tecun Uman on the Guatemalan side of the border.    She could not say if any people had tried to cross into Mexico illegally.
    Mexico’s government said Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard planned to meet U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo soon for talks on their efforts to address the migration challenge.    No date was yet set for the talks, a ministry spokeswoman said.
(Editing by Dave Graham and Paul Tait)

1/18/2019 Trump missile defense review calls North Korea ‘extraordinary threat’ by Phil Stewart
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before he meets U.S. political and military leaders
during an unannounced visit to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump unveiled a revamped U.S. missile defense strategy on Thursday that called North Korea an ongoing and “extraordinary threat,” seven months after he declared the threat posed by Pyongyang had been eliminated.
    The plan, which also detailed concerns about the burgeoning capabilities of Iran, Russia and China, called for developing space-based sensors to detect incoming enemy missiles and exploring space-based weapons to shoot down missiles among other steps to shield the United States.
    The open acknowledgment in the Missile Defense Review of U.S. plans to counter Russian and Chinese technological advances likely will alarm those nations.    It marked a departure from the approach taken by Republican Trump’s Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, to tamp down concerns by major nuclear powers about expanding U.S. missile defenses.
    “Our goal is simple: To ensure we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States – anywhere, anytime, anyplace,” Trump said at the Pentagon.
    Trump did not mention the North Korean missile threat in his remarks.    But acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan called North Korea’s missiles a “significant concern.”
    “While a possible new avenue to peace now exists with North Korea, it continues to pose an extraordinary threat and the United States must remain vigilant,” the report said.
    For Trump, who is trying to revive efforts to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear arsenal, the report’s release came at an awkward moment.    Senior North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol was headed for Washington on Thursday for expected talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday and a possible encounter with Trump, a person familiar with the matter said.
    The talks could lead to an announcement of plans for a second Trump summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after their meeting last year in Singapore, the source told Reuters.
    Trump wrote on Twitter after the June 2018 summit that there is “no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”
    The Missile Defense Review recommended studying experimental technologies including space-based weaponry that might be able to shoot down enemy missiles, a throwback to former President Ronald Reagan’s 1980s “Star Wars” initiative.
    It called for investments in space-based sensors that can better detect and track incoming missiles, and perhaps counter super-fast hypersonic technology, an area in which China has made major advances and Russia is actively working.
    “The U.S. will now adjust its posture to also defend against any missile strikes including cruise and hypersonic missiles,” Trump said.
    The U.S. missile defense system is just a “face-saving project” that does not scare China and Russia, the Global Times, a nationalist state-backed Chinese tabloid, wrote on Friday.
    “Russia and China’s progress in developing super-fast hypersonic missiles has in particular made the U.S. missile defense system less capable than desired,” the newspaper said in an editorial.
    The U.S. document also pointed to projects by U.S. defense industry giants including Raytheon Co , Lockheed Martin and Boeing Co .
    “We are committed to establishing a missile-defense program that can shield every city in the United States.    And we will never negotiate away our right to do this,” Trump said.
    A senior Russian legislator, Viktor Bondarev, said after Trump’s announcement that the new U.S. strategy would ramp up global tensions, according to Interfax news agency.
    The United States previously announced plans to increase the number of ground-based interceptors over the next several years, hiking the number positioned at Fort Greely, Alaska to 64 from 44.    Greely, the report said, “has the potential for up to an additional 40 interceptors.” The United States is looking at an additional site to host missile interceptors as well.
    Trump specifically mentioned Iran’s capabilities.    The report said Iran possesses the largest ballistic missile force in the Middle East.
    “Its desire to have a strategic counter to the United States could drive it to field an ICBM,” the report said, referring to an intercontinental ballistic missile.
    U.S. officials have said American missile defenses are primarily designed to counter attacks from countries with more-limited arsenals like North Korea, which U.S. intelligence officials believe is still advancing its nuclear program despite a halt to missile launches last year.
    Pentagon officials contend that American missiles defenses are too few to effectively counter a major first-strike on the U.S. homeland by an advanced nuclear power like Russia or China.    Washington hopes those countries will instead be deterred from attacks by America’s nuclear arsenal.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason, Mike Stone and Matt Spetalnick in Washington, Christian Shepherd in Beijing and Polina Ivanova in Moscow; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Will Dunham)

1/18/2019 Car bomber kills 10 in Colombia police academy attack by Luis Jaime Acosta and Nelson Bocanegra
People take part in a candlelight vigil to honor victims, close to the scene of a
car bomb explosion, in Bogota, Colombia January 17, 2019. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

    BOGOTA (Reuters) – A car bomb exploded at a police academy in Colombia’s capital Bogota on Thursday, killing at least 10 people and wounding over 50 in an attack that prompted fears of a return to the country’s violent past.
    Authorities said the car broke through checkpoints into the grounds of the General Santander School and exploded, shattering windows of apartments nearby.    It was the deadliest attack in Bogota since the government struck a 2016 peace deal with the Marxist FARC rebel group.
    President Ivan Duque called the explosion a “crazy terrorist act” against unarmed cadets and said he had ordered police and the military to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
    “Colombians have never yielded to terrorism, we have always defeated it.    This will not be an exception,” he told a news conference at the school in the south of the city.
    Investigators had identified the car’s driver as Jose Aldemar Rojas Rodriguez, who was among the dead, said Colombian Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez.
    He said the vehicle, a gray Nissan Patrol SUV, was carrying 80 kilograms (176 lb) of the high explosive pentolite, which has been used in the past by Colombian guerrillas.
    There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack and Humberto Martinez said investigators were searching for its “intellectual authors.”
    The Defense Ministry said in a statement that 10 people were killed and 54 wounded.    Nine of the deceased were cadets at the academy, police said.
    A police helicopter hovered over the area and family members gathered, many crying as they sought information.
    Images on social media showed the remains of a vehicle in flames in the parking area, and emergency responders at the scene.
    Car bombs were frequent in Colombia during decades of civil war between the state and various leftist rebel groups, as well as in violence involving the Medellin drug cartel led by dead drug lord Pablo Escobar.
    The worst of the war, which killed some 260,000 and left millions displaced, ended when the government reached a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016.
    The last major attack was in January 2018 when the biggest rebel group that remains active, the National Liberation Army (ELN), detonated a bomb in the northern port city of Barranquilla, killing five police officers and injuring dozens.
    The ELN, made up of some 2,000 fighters and considered a terrorist organization by the United States, has been in talks with the government since February 2017 to end the conflict.    Duque, who took office in August, has conditioned peace talks on the ELN suspending hostilities and releasing all hostages.
    On Wednesday, the ELN said in a statement it had kidnapped three crewmen of a civil helicopter it “neutralized” last week.    In response, Colombia’s High Peace Commissioner, Miguel Ceballos, said the ELN “was moving further and further away from the possibility of dialogue.”
    There was no indication the ELN was behind the attack in Bogota or that the kidnapping was linked.
    As violence has receded in recent years, Colombia has taken off as a tourist destination, with more than three million foreign visitors in 2017, up from one million in 2006.
(Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra and Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Alistair Bell and Rosalba O’Brien)

1/18/2019 Venezuela to receive 2,000 Cuban doctors pulled from Brazil: Maduro
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a special session of the National Constituent Assembly
to present his annual state of the nation in Caracas, Venezuela January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero/File Photo
    CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela will receive 2,000 Cuban doctors who left Brazil following a dispute between the Communist-run island and the government of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who ordered an end to their stay after taking office this year.
    Bolsonaro said some 11,000 doctors were being used as “slave labor” and demanded that the Cuban government, which took 75 percent of their salaries, allow them to be paid in full and have their families join them.
    Cuba refused and pulled the doctors out.
    “Next week, we’re going to have a special event that celebrates the arrival of 2,000 new community doctors that Cuba is sending us.    They are coming from Brazil,” President Nicolas Maduro said in a televised broadcast.
    “Brazilian fascism ended the health plan, and the 2,000 doctors are coming to Venezuela,” he said.
    Clinics run by Cuban doctors were a signature program of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, who enjoyed an oil windfall during his 14-year rule that ended with his 2013 death from cancer.    Venezuela paid for the medical services with shipments of oil.
    Maduro, who has overseen a collapse of the once-booming economy, has faced growing complaints of decay in the health system and steady abandonment of the facilities once run by Cuban doctors.    He did not give details about how Venezuela would pay for the doctors’ services.
(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Peter Cooney)
[He will not pay them they will be slaves like the rest of his poplation.].

1/18/2019 Explainer: ‘Yellow vest’ crisis exposes limits of French welfare system by Leigh Thomas
FILE PHOTO: Protesters wearing yellow vests walk on the Champs-Elysees Avenue with the Arc de Triomphe in the background during
a national day of protest by the "yellow vests" movement in Paris, France, December 8, 2018. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
    PARIS (Reuters) – France’s “yellow vest” protests have exposed a deep-rooted belief that society is not working for large swathes of the French population, especially outside major cities.
    Driving the unrest is anger about rising living costs – particularly among low-paid workers – and a perception that President Emmanuel Macron is deaf to their needs as he presses on with reforms seen as favoring the wealthy.
    The following graphics look at underlying economic and social indicators in France to try to explain why so many people believe the system is working against them.
    Without welfare transfers, poverty and inequality in France would be among the highest in developed countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Paris-based group estimates.
    While many protesters rail against what they see as a gulf between them and the upper echelons of French society, OECD data suggests that the wealth divide is not as bad as in many other rich countries.
    France’s extensive welfare system keeps the poverty rate at 14.3 percent, below the 18 percent OECD average and on a par with Scandinavian countries known for their egalitarianism.
    Without tax and welfare payouts, nearly 42 percent of the population would be living in poverty, the highest rate among OECD countries for which recent data is available.
    Likewise, France’s Gini coefficient, a gauge of income inequality, is slightly below the OECD average whereas without welfare transfers it would be among the highest, just behind Italy, Portugal and Greece, according to OECD data.
    While a progressive tax system and generous welfare help narrow the wealth gap, it comes at a price as French taxpayers also bear the highest tax burden in the world
    Tax cuts on wealth and financial assets early on in Macron’s five-year term have added to middle-class taxpayers’ frustration and he has been criticized as being a president of the rich.
    Unlike Scandinavian countries, France’s poor have little hope of improving their lot in life despite the billions of euros the government spends on them, according to OECD data.
    The OECD estimates it would take six generations for a person from a low-income family in France to reach an average income compared with only two generations in Denmark and an OECD average of 4.5.
    “There are no rungs anymore on France’s social ladder,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, a conservative, said on Monday.
    While six generations is on a par with its neighbor Germany, the French have a deep attachment to the idea that state institutions, from schools to courts to government, are supposed to offer the same chance of success to all.
    But despite income support for those on low incomes, they have little chance of doing better than their parents, according to a study last year by France Strategie think-tank, which is linked to the prime minister’s office.
    The study found that a person whose father was a senior white-collar worker was 4.5 times more likely to belong to the wealthiest fifth of the population than someone whose father was a manual worker – largely because social origin correlates closely with one’s level of education.
    While France is close to the average in international education comparisons, it has a bigger gulf between the scores of the lowest and highest performing upper school students, the OECD’s director of social affairs Stefano Scarpetta said.
    The protests originally erupted in November over higher fuel taxes, that have since been scrapped, and general frustration about the high cost of living, sparking the worst street violence Paris has seen in decades.
    With people on low incomes surviving on welfare handouts and the lower middle class squeezed by the tax burden, the French are highly sensitive to pressure on their daily budgets.
    That helps explain a national obsession with purchasing power and French politicians are frequently judged on whether people are getting more spare cash.
    While protesters largely ignored new tax breaks to boost purchasing power, official data lends credence to their claims that budgets are getting squeezed.
    The pressure is increasingly coming from housing costs, which now absorb 23 percent of their budgets compared with 10 percent a generation ago, according to the official French statistics agency INSEE.
    Meanwhile, a lack of jobs, deindustrialization and dwindling public services mean that discontent is highest in smaller towns cut off from the economic opportunities of bigger cities.
    In towns of 5,000-10,000 people, 21 percent report below average life satisfaction compared to 14 percent in the capital Paris, INSEE said in a study this week.
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by David Clarke)

1/18/2019 Brazil’s farm minister worried about Israel embassy move
Brazil's Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina arrives for an interview
with Reuters in Brasilia, Brazil January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
    BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias said on Friday the farm sector is worried that President Jair Bolsonaro’s plan to move Brazil’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem could hurt halal meat exports to Muslim countries.
    “Of course the agricultural sector that I represent is worried,” Dias told Reuters, when asked about possible repercussions for trade with Arab countries if the embassy were to be moved.    “Brazil cannot lose markets, we need to open new markets,” she said.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

1/18/2019 U.S. House panel’s top Democrat, Republican seek executive trading oversight by Pete Schroeder
FILE PHOTO: Representative Maxine Waters speaks during a national day of action called "Keep Families Together" to
protest the Trump administration's 'Zero Tolerance' policy in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 30, 2018. REUTERS/Monica Almeida
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Democrat and Republican on the House Financial Services Committee are sponsoring legislation directing a regulatory review of some corporate executive investment plans, as the banking panel starts its 2019 work on a bipartisan note.
    Representative Maxine Waters, the Democrat who chairs the panel, and Representative Patrick McHenry, its top Republican, are behind the bill, which would order the Securities and Exchange Commission to review its existing rules around some executive investment plans.
    “I am happy to work with Ranking Member McHenry on the first of what I hope will be many bipartisan bills to strengthen consumer and investor protections,” Waters said in a statement.
    “Cracking down on fraud and abuse within our financial system is apolitical,” said McHenry in a statement.    “I am glad to join Chairwoman Waters in this meaningful effort to help the SEC better understand illicit insider trading.”
    House Democrats, now back in the majority, are expected to feud frequently with President Donald Trump and his allies in Congress, and Waters has said she plans to vigorously monitor his administration.
    But in the early days of the committee, Waters is emphasizing her bipartisan efforts.     The new bill targets so-called 10b5-1 trading plans, which allow for executives to make prearranged sales of company stock without facing accusations of insider trading.    The SEC established rules in 2000 creating such plans.
    Some experts have questioned, however, whether such plans are sufficiently disclosed and could still carry insider trading risk, given that executives can make later changes to those sale plans.
    The SEC said it was reviewing such plans in 2007, but has not altered its rule.    The new bill would direct the SEC to study its regulation, and consider if it should place additional limits on permissible trading.
    New changes could include mandatory delays between creating a trading plan and selling shares, limiting how often executives can change those plans or limiting the number of such plans an executive can have.
    The SEC did not respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Pete Schroeder, editing by G Crosse)
[So far, Maxine Waters has not told someone to hurt anyone].

1/18/2019 Robots will be your colleagues not your replacement: Manpower
FILE PHOTO: A robotic bartender prepares drinks inside a space modul-like
structure in Prague, Czech Republic, November 28, 2018. REUTERS/David W Cerny/File Photo
    BERLIN (Reuters) – Fears that robots will eliminate your job are unfounded with a growing number of employers planning to increase or maintain headcount as a result of automation, staffing company ManpowerGroup said in a survey published on Friday.
    The “Humans Wanted: Robots Need You” report surveyed 19,000 employers in 44 countries and found 69 percent of firms were planning to maintain the size of their workforce while 18 percent wanted to hire more people as a result of automation.    That was the highest result in three years.
    The report went on to say that 24 percent of the firms that will invest in automation and digital technologies over the next two years plan to add jobs compared to 18 percent of those who are not automating.
    Just 9 percent of employers in the annual survey said automation would directly lead to job losses, while 4 percent did not know what the impact would be.
    “More and more robots are being added to the workforce, but humans are too,” said Jonas Prising, Chairman & CEO of ManpowerGroup.
    “Tech is here to stay and it’s our responsibility as leaders to become Chief Learning Officers and work out how we integrate humans with machines.”     More than 3 million industrial robots will be in use in factories around the world by 2020, according to the International Federation of Robotics.
    The Manpower survey found that 84 percent of firms planned to help their workers learn new skills by 2020, compared to just 21 percent in 2011.
    The global talent shortage is at a 12-year-high, with many companies struggling to fill jobs, according to Manpower.
    In Germany, where unemployment is at a record low, a shortage of talent was the top concern of small-to-mid-sized companies heading into 2019, according to a survey by the BVMW Mittelstand association.
    The Manpower survey found IT skills are particularly in demand with 16 percent of companies expecting to hire staff in IT.
    In manufacturing and production, where industrial robots are increasingly doing routine tasks, firms expect to hire more people in customer-facing roles that require skills such as communication, leadership, negotiation and adaptability.
    Employers in Singapore, Costa Rica, Guatemala and South Africa expected to add the most staff, while firms in Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Norway, Slovakia and Romania predicted a decrease in headcount, the survey found.
(Writing by Caroline Copley; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)
[Between 1982-1988 I was an Industrial-Manufacturing Engineer, in charge of bringing in robotics to the California company I worked for.    So brought in a Paint robot and an Arc welding robot when there was only 5,000 robots in the world.    I set the welding robot to do our 150 a day manifolds, which replaced 3 welders with one person loading parts to it.    I had the two welders go to do our commerical line that improved that from 20 a day to 50 a day.    Our company stole market share from our competition because we went from a 2 week lead time to a 2 day lead time, and I got 15% raises for years as I included maching centers, automated punch presses and new conveyer lines methods to improve it with computer networks.    No one lost their jobs then but at that time I could envision a day when that could happen.].

1/18/2019 Vice President Pence makes surprise appearance at March for Life rally by OAN Newsroom
    Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise visit at the 46th Annual March for Life rally.    During his speech Friday, Pence said pro-life issues are winning in America.
    Pence also touted what President Trump has pushed for since taking office, and called him a champion for pro-life issues.
Vice President Mike Pence waves. (Photo: Luis Soto, AP)
    “The truth is, President Donald Trump is the most pro-life president in American history, and we are grateful for your support,” he stated.
    Pence outlined the president’s agenda, saying he has kept his promise to nominate conservative judges and signed legislation to empower states to defund Planned Parenthood.
    The vice president went on to say while much more progress needs to be made on the issue, the Trump administration is committed to supporting pro-life policies and encouraged advocates to stand strong.

1/18/2019 President Trump slams Buzzfeed, says they released unverified Steele Dossier by OAN Newsroom
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
    President Trump responds to the Buzzfeed controversy, reminding the American people the media outlet was behind the uncorroborated Steele Dossier.
    Talking to Twitter on Friday, the President said the dossier, which was funded by the Clinton Foundation and the democrats, is the foundation for the special counsel’s probe into alleged Russian collusion.
    He added, this is a very sad.
    Trump tweet: “Remember it was Buzzfeed that released the totally discredited “Dossier,” paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the Democrats (as opposition research), on which the entire Russian probe is based! A very sad day for journalism, but a great day for our Country!

1/18/2019 Special Counsel disputes Buzzfeed article on Michael Cohen by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Dec. 7, 2018 file photo, Michael Cohen, former lawyer to President Donald Trump,
leaves his apartment building in New York. A report by BuzzFeed News, citing two unnamed law enforcement officials,
says that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress and that Cohen regularly briefed Trump on the project.
The Associated Press has not independently confirmed the report. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
    A spokesperson for the special counsel’s office is disputing the Buzzfeed News report claiming Michael Cohen was directed by the President to lie to congress about a possible project in Moscow, Russia.
    In a statement on Friday, that spokesperson said, Buzzfeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate.”
    Worth noting, it’s extremely rare the office of the special counsel to comment on the special counsel to comment on specific news stories.
    This after President Trump suggested his former attorney may not be telling the truth in order to get a lighter sentence.

1/19/2019 Oil up $1.73 to $53.80, DOW up 336 to 24,706

1/19/2019 Lawmakers react to Trump report - Yarmuth: If it’s true, it’s an impeachable offense by Phillip M. Bailey, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth joined his fellow Democrats in expressing deep concern about allegations published in a report late Thursday claiming President Donald Trump personally ordered his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a potential real-estate deal in Moscow.
    The BuzzFeed News report, citing two unnamed law enforcement officials, alleges Trump directed Cohen to mislead lawmakers about when negotiations to launch a condo project in Russia’s capital ended, as well as the extent of the president’s involvement in the deal during the 2016 presidential race.
    However, special counsel Robert Mueller’s office late Friday issued a rare public statement disputing the accuracy of BuzzFeed News’ report.    The statement doesn’t cite any specific errors, but the special counsel’s spokesman, Peter Carr, said, “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate.”
    In a statement Friday night, Buzz-Feed spokesman Matt Mittenthal says the news organization is trying to figure out what Mueller’s team is taking issue with.    In a separate statement, BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith says it stands by the reporting and the “sources who informed it.”    He called on Mueller “to make clear what he’s disputing.”
    The USA TODAY Network has not independently confirmed the report.
    “If true, which it appears to be, the report that Trump suborned perjury is an impeachable offense, and the House should begin the process,” Yarmuth, Kentucky’s lone Democrat in Washington, told the Courier Journal on Friday.    A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said if he had any comment on, “anonymous sources in the BuzzFeed story,” his office would let the Courier Journal know.
    U.S. Rep. James Comer, a Republican who represents the bulk of Western Kentucky, said as a member of the oversight committee, he is responsible for conducting, “serious fact-based” investigations.    He pointed out Cohen is scheduled to testify Feb. 7 before the panel.
    “Until all necessary information is gathered, I will reserve the right to make a full, accurate judgement,” Comer said.
    Other members of the Kentucky delegation, including U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
    U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, declined to comment through a spokeswoman.
    Cohen, known as Trump’s longtime “fixer” by many, is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller, who has been conducting a monthslong probe into Trump’s ties to Russia.    He had previously testified he falsely told Congress that the president’s attempt to get the Moscow project off the ground concluded in January 2016 when he actually continued to pursue the project through June of that year.    Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying to Congress on this matter.
President Donald Trump has pushed back against a story claiming he ordered his
former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. CARLOS BARRIA/AP

1/19/2019 Dems to probe story that Trump told Cohen to lie - Republicans quiet after BuzzFeed bombshell by Kim Hjelmgaard and Christal Hayes, USA TODAY
    Democratic lawmakers vowed to investigate allegations published in a report late Thursday that President Donald Trump personally ordered his former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a potential real-estate development in Moscow.
    The report, published by BuzzFeed News, said Trump directed Cohen to mislead Congress about when negotiations to launch a condo project in Russia’s capital ended, as well as the extent of Trump’s involvement in the deal.    It later fell apart.
    USA TODAY had not independently confirmed the report as of Friday.
    BuzzFeed, which cited two unnamed law enforcement officials for its report, said that the office of special counsel Robert Mueller investigating Trump’s Russia ties has additional evidence about the alleged deception backed up by “interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.”
    Cohen previously testified he falsely told Congress that Trump’s attempt to get the Moscow project off the ground concluded in January 2016 when he actually continued to pursue the project through June 2016.    Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying to Congress on this matter.
    He is now cooperating with Mueller’s probe and has agreed to appear before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 7 before he begins a three-year prison term in March for crimes that include arranging for payments during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign to silence women who claimed they had affairs with Trump.
    BuzzFeed’s story, if true, is significant because Trump consistently denied on the campaign trail having had any financial links to Russia.    In fact, since 2016, Trump has publicly repeated more than two dozen times that he has “nothing to do with Russia.”
    “There was no talking to Russia.    There was no phone calls.    I didn’t make phone calls to Russia.    I didn’t receive phone calls.    I didn’t have meetings.    I didn’t have texts.    I didn’t have anything,” he said aboard Air Force One in September.
    USA TODAY reached out to the White House and the special counsel’s office at the Department of Justice for comment but received no immediate response.
    Democratic leaders reacted with anger and concern but also caution, pledging to investigate and establish the accuracy of the BuzzFeed report.
    The allegation that the President of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote on Twitter on Thursday night.    “We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true,” he said.
    “If Mueller does have multiple sources confirming Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, then we need to know this ASAP,” wrote Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn, on Twitter.
    “I mean everything feels like a bombshell and we are all numb but I’m pretty sure if this story is true it’s – I’m going to be careful with my words here – something that Congress must investigate thoroughly,” said Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.
    At least one lawmaker called for Trump’s impeachment if the report’s accuracy is proved.
    “If the @Buzzfeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
    There was little reaction from Republican lawmakers.    Lanny Davis, Cohen’s legal and communications adviser, issued the following statement after the Buzz-Feed report: “Out of respect for Mr. Mueller’s and the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation, Mr. Cohen declined to respond to the questions asked by the reporters and so do I,” Davis told USA TODAY.
    Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani shot down the report Thursday night, saying in a statement, according to a tweet from Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker: “If you believe Cohen I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge.”     “If you believe Cohen I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge.” Rudy Giuliani, Trump attorney.

1/19/2019 Activists decry abortion as Pence visits march - Administration making progress in fight, he says by Ryan W. Miller and Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – Thousands of anti-abortion activists, including many young people bundled up against the cold weather gripping the nation’s capital, gathered at a stage on the National Mall Friday for their annual march in the long-contentious debate over abortion.
    Signs reading “Choose love, Choose life,” “I am the pro-life generation,” and “Defund Planned Parenthood” dotted the crowd gathering under hazy, wintry skies at the morning rally.
    Although President Donald Trump addressed last year’s rally in a video feed, Vice President Mike Pence carried the administration’s message at this year’s events, including expected remarks at a post-march dinner.
    Ben Shapiro, a popular conservative commentator, was the featured speaker.    Shapiro spent his time on a live show “debunking” abortion rights arguments.    He discussed the value of life and contended that his arguments were not based on religion but science.    “Abortion is not just pulling a plug,” Shapiro said.    “Abortion is a violent act.”
    Pence and his wife, Karen, also made a surprise appearance at the Friday rally with a video message from Trump.
    “This is a movement founded on love and grounded in the nobility and dignity of every human life,” Trump said in the message.    “I will always defend the first right in our Declaration of Independence: the right to life.”
    Pence earlier called into Shapiro’s broadcast from the march.    “We’ve got a record of extraordinary progress on the right to life,” Pence said of the Trump administration.    “This will be the generation that restores the right to life in America.”
    He later tweeted about the administration’s nomination of conservative judges and allowing “states to defund Planned Parenthood.”
    This year, the march unfolds against the backdrop of a change in political power in Washington, with Democrats taking control of the House.
    March for Life president Jeanne Mancini conceded that things in Washington have “changed quite a bit” over the last 12 months.    “Last year we could lean in and expect people to be really courageous on the Hill on our issues and we had all sorts of champions,” she said.    “This year, we’re in the place of fighting for the status quo.”
    On the other side, the new Democratic House majority vows to block Trump actions affecting birth control access and abortion services.
    “We are systematically going to dismantle these restrictions on women’s health care,” Rep. Diana DeGette, DColo., co-leader of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, said at a news conference Tuesday where one caucus member donned pink boxing gloves.    “So here we go!
    To many participants, the annual march, which draws many young people from Catholic and other religious schools across the country, is a moment to stand up with like-minded activists.
    Nathan Elfrich, 19, and Carolin Quinn, 18, both students from Xavier University, see the annual event as a way to bond with peers.
    Quinn, who is attending for the fourth year, said she has found a strong community of friends in the movement and the march.
    Elfrich called the march a “positive” movement, unlike violent protests.    He sees the march as something that can grow as anti-abortion youth grow up and “become leaders of the country.”
    He said it’s important to keep the march going so that their voices continue to be heard.    “The message can get lost” without it, he said.
    Anna Demeuse, 23, from Green Bay, Wisconsin, who is at her sixth march, says she keeps coming back because abortion is still legal.    “Until it is overturned we will still march,” she said.    “And even if it is overturned we can still march to celebrate life.”
    She called abortion “the greatest injustice in our nation,” adding that she marches not only to save unborn children but also women who may choose to have an abortion.
    For an issue that is often portrayed in black-and-white terms, some activists also reflected nuances found within the movement.
    “I’m a Christian and I believe that all life matters, including those who are unborn,” said Brianna Kress, 24, from outside Annapolis.
    “I’m not saying women shouldn’t have rights,” she added.    “I’m a woman, but we shouldn’t forget the rights of the unborn.”
    Quinn also said that the notion that the march can’t exist with other feminist movements is wrong.    “I’m a women and I stand up for life,” she said.    “It’s a pro-woman movement.”
    Michael Gladu, 55, an operating room nurse from Gaithersburg, Maryland, said he thinks public opinion is moving in support of the anti-abortion movement “because ... the younger generation is seeing this as good.”    But he said he thinks the country is so polarized on the issue that it doesn’t allow for debate.
Contributing: Maureen Groppe
The march attracted many young participants from Roman Catholic and other
religion-based colleges around the country. JACK GRUBER/USA TODAY
Abortion opponents gathered in Washington for the 46th annual march Friday. JACK GRUBE/ USA TODAY

1/19/2019 Florida governor suspends county elections supervisor
    Republican Florida Gov. Ron De-Santis on Friday suspended a county elections supervisor who failed to meet deadlines during recounts after November’s election.    DeSantis said Palm Beach elections supervisor Susan Bucher violated state law by not completing recounts before a statemandated deadline and by mishandling ballots.
    Bucher, a former Democratic state representative, has held the elections position since 2008.    DeSantis named lawyer Wendy Link to replace her.

1/19/2019 U.S. asked Ecuadorean officials about alleged Assange-Manafort meeting: source by Alexandra Valencia and Jose Llangari
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian
Embassy in London, Britain, May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
    QUITO (Reuters) – U.S. officials spoke with officials from Ecuador’s British embassy on Friday about an alleged meeting there between President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an Ecuadorean government source said.
    The Guardian newspaper reported the meeting in November, alleging the two met at least three times, including in 2016, just before WikiLeaks released damaging emails about Trump’s rival in the 2016 presidential elections, Hillary Clinton.
    Manafort and Assange have both previously denied meeting each other at the embassy.
    WikiLeaks, in a statement on Friday entitled the “U.S. interrogation of Ecuadorian diplomats,” accused Ecuador’s government of assisting the United States in prosecuting Assange, who first sought asylum in the embassy in 2012.
    The source said the embassy officials, at the request of the U.S. Justice Department, provided testimony in Quito at facilities provided by Ecuadorean authorities.
    Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment and the U.S. embassy in Quito did not respond to a request for comment.
    Manafort is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy against the United States and agreeing to cooperate with U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign.
    Part of Mueller’s probe has involved looking into whether Trump associates may have had advance notice before WikiLeaks published emails stolen by Russian hackers from Democratic computer networks to damage Clinton.
    WikiLeaks called the Guardian’s story “indisputably fabricated” and said it was being used as a pretext for the United States to prosecute Assange.    The Guardian has defended the article and said it “relied on a number of sources.”
    A lawyer for Assange in Ecuador, Carlos Poveda, said he had not received any notification of the interviews with the embassy officials.
    Assange’s relationship with Ecuador has grown increasingly fraught and President Lenin Moreno has said he does not like his presence in the embassy.    “Ecuador’s new regime has done a 180 turn in relation to protecting Mr Assange,” WikiLeaks said in the statement published on Twitter.
    Assange initially took asylum at the embassy in London to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him as part of a sexual assault investigation.    That investigation was dropped.
    Assange denied the Swedish allegations saying the charge was a ploy that would eventually take him to the United States where prosecutors are preparing to pursue a criminal case against him.
(Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Brian Ellsworth and Daniel Wallis)

1/19/2019 SK: New summit with NK-U.S. could be ‘turning point’ for peace by OAN Newsroom
    South Korea confirms the new summit between the U.S. and North Korea to be held next month.
    According to a South Korean spokesman Saturday, the summit will take place in late February, with the hope it will be a ‘turning point for lasting peace on the Korean peninsula’.
FILE – In this June. 12, 2018, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, right, meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on
Sentosa Island, in Singapore. South Korea has stopped calling North Korea an “enemy” in its biennial defense document published
Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019 in an apparent effort to continue reconciliation with Pyongyang. The development comes as U.S. and North Korean
leaders are looking to set up their second summit to defuse an international standoff over the North’s nuclear program. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
    The summit will also reportedly pursue the continued goal of denuclearization, which was previously agreed on by President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a June summit in Singapore.
    “The South Korean government will work closely with the United States and other countries to achieve concrete and practical results through the second North Korea-U.S. summit, towards complete denuclearisation and the establishment of permanent peace on the Korean peninsula,” said Kim Eui-Keum, presidential spokesperson of South Korea.
    North Korean Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol arrived in Washington D.C. late Thursday to negotiate the summit details.
    While key nuclear sites have been dismantled, U.S. intelligence reports said Pyongyang has increased its production of fuel for nuclear weapons.

1/19/2019 Scuffles break out as ‘yellow vests’ march in Paris in latest protest by Noemie Olive and Sudip Kar-Gupta
Protesters wearing yellow vests take part in a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement,
in Paris, France, January 19, 2019. The sign reads "Media State Propaganda". REUTERS/Charles Platiau
    PARIS (Reuters) – Scuffles broke out on Saturday as around 7,000 “yellow vest” demonstrators marched through Paris in a 10th consecutive weekend of protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s government.
    The demonstrations were largely peaceful but Reuters Television reporters said they saw clashes break out late in the afternoon between police and demonstrators, some wearing masks, in Paris’ Invalides district.
    Protesters threw firecrackers, bottles and stones at the police who responded with water canon and tear gas to push them back.
    Officials said there were around 7,000 demonstrators in Paris and 27,000 across France.
    A Reuters reporter also said there had been clashes in the southern port city of Marseille, while similar demonstrations took place in other cities across France.
    “Macron, resign!” some of the protesters shouted.
    Some also carried mock coffins symbolizing the 10 people who have died during the protests, mainly due to accidents when demonstrators blocked roads.
    The “yellow vest” protests – which make use of fluorescent jackets French motorists are required to carry in their cars – began in November over higher fuel taxes.
    Those fuel taxes were subsequently scrapped, yet the movement has morphed into a broader anti-Macron protest.
    December’s demonstrations wreaked some of the worst violence seen in decades in Paris, as rioters burned cars and damaged shops and businesses.
    Protests this month have not witnessed the same level of trouble, although video of a former French boxing champion punching and kicking police in Paris shocked many.
    Macron has launched a series of national debates to help quell public discontent and restore his standing.
(Additional reporting by Emmanuel Jarry and Marc Leras in Marseille; editing by Alexander Smith and Jason Neely)

1/19/2019 Merkel eyes closer cooperation in EU defense systems
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the
Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
    BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday the European Union must deepen cooperation in defense and in particular weapons systems development, warning Germans that they may need to make compromises on strict export controls.
    In a bid to counter growing eurosceptic nationalism before elections to the European Parliament in May, Merkel has stressed the importance of close cooperation within the bloc.
    On Jan. 22 she signs an agreement with French President Emmanuel Macron that builds on a 1963 treaty of post-war reconciliation and is aimed at bolstering the EU.
    In a speech to her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) in the northern city of Rostock, Merkel said: “It is good that after several decades we want to develop a common defense policy … We must develop weapons systems together,” adding Europe had many more systems than the United States.
    Arguing that EU countries should not compete among themselves for new projects and fighter planes but develop products together, she said there would be a need to compromise on export rules.
    “We have very strict export rules, others have less strict rules … But anyone who develops an airplane with us would also like to know whether they can sell the plane with us,” she said.
    “We will have to make compromises, that is what we are talking about at the moment.”
    Last year, France stopped short of Germany’s move to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
    In her weekly podcast, Merkel stressed the importance of the French-German partnership at the heart of the EU, saying the friendship was “far from a given after centuries of military conflict between our countries.”
    “We want to give an impulse to European unity,” Merkel said.
    Although the two countries, traditionally the EU’s main engine, differ on issues such as euro zone reform, the treaty envisages deeper cooperation in foreign and defense policy and in tackling terrorism as well as more cultural exchanges.
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers and Andreas Rinke; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

1/19/2019 Pres. Trump speaks out on need for border wall ahead of speech by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump says he hopes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can come along and realize walls work, ahead of his announcement on the situation at the southern border.
    The president made the comment before his trip to Dover Air Force Base on Saturday and also said there are too many open areas on the border and stressed everybody knows walls work.
President Donald Trump walks to board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.,
Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, to travel to Dover Air Force Base, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    He also expressed disappointment in Mexico for not stopping the approaching caravan, and suggested the country is powerless to stop it.
    The president also claimed Pelosi is controlled by the ‘radical left’ regarding the issue.
    “She’s controlled by radical left.    Bad thing for her, bad thing for Dems.    Everybody knows walls work,” said President Trump.    “Look at San Antonio, so many places, go from one of most unsafe cities in country to one of safest in country.    Works, will put it up."
    Reports said during the address, the president will propose extending DACA protections and legislation on extending temporary protected status for immigrants in exchange for wall funding.

1/19/2019 Pres. Trump delivers remarks on border wall, offers proposal to Dems by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump offers a proposal to Democrats, in an attempt at a compromise to reopen the government.
    Speaking from the White House, he laid out three main points to address the humanitarian crisis at the border.
President Donald Trump arrives to deliver remarks about American missile defense doctrine,
Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, at the Pentagon. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    The president asked for $5.7 billion for a wall along the southern border, to stem the flow of illegal aliens, drugs and violence.
    In exchange, he offered a three year extension for DACA recipients, as well as a three year extension for those under temporary protective status.
    He doubled down on his promise to the American people, and called for an end to the crisis.
    “I want this to end, and end now,” said President Trump.    “These are not talking points, these are the heartbreaking realities that hurt American families every day on both sides of the border.    As a candidate for president, I promised I would fix this crisis, and I intend to keep that promise one way or another.”
    Following his address, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement, saying everyone has made their point, and now it’s time to make a law.
    He added, the proposal will be brought to the Senate floor this week, and with bipartisan cooperation, the house could take action as well.
    Despite this, b>Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi already issued a statement before the president’s address, saying she will reject that plan.
[It sounds like Pelosi wants to force Trump to do the "National Emergeny" to get the wall built.    And there will be bills pushed from Congress to the Senate that will be rejected for the next two years.].

1/20/2019 Trump offers DACA protections for border wall - Democrats assail proposal as ‘previously rejected’ by David Jackson, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – As the partial government shutdown neared a month, President Donald Trump used a White House speech Saturday to outline what he called “a common sense compromise both parties can embrace” that included protections for some undocumented immigrants and money for border security.
    “Both sides in Washington must simply come together,” Trump said in a White House speech, saying he is trying to “break the logjam.”    Defending his plan, he said, “walls are not immoral, in fact they are the opposite of immoral because they will save many lives.”
    In remarks he billed as a “major announcement,” Trump cited a proposal developed by administration officials and Republican lawmakers.
    Congressional Democrats, however, said the offer as reported would not lead to a deal that would end the shutdown, in part because it would allow Trump to pursue an expensive and ineffective wall.
    “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,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement issued before Trump’s speech.
    Pelosi and other Democrats said the proposal also is a non-starter because it does not provide a path to citizenship for qualified migrants.
    A senior House Democratic aide said the proposal as it would not pass the House or Senate, in part becauseit includes the same wasteful, ineffective $5.7 billion wall demand that shut down the government in the first place.”
    Trump said his proposal would give “Dreamers” work permits and protection from deportation, but he did not say anything about a path to citizenship.    “This plan solves the immediate crisis,” he said.
    The president also appeared to scale back the size of his wall proposal, saying he wants barriers only in “critical places” along the border.
    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., outlined the proposal for Trump last month, and told reporters the president was receptive.    It involves giving the Democrats protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which includes a group known as DREAMers, and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders.
    Trump would not detail his proposal, but said it would be designed to end the partial shutdown that could trigger movement in talks to end the budget impasse that has kept the government closed for four weeks – now the longest shutdown in U.S. history.
    “Let’s get to work and let’s make a deal,” Trump said in a video he tweeted out to tease the speech.
    Congressional Democrats said a barrier such as the one Trump wants would be easily evaded via ladders or tunnels.
    Trump frequently criticizes migrant “caravans” and claims they include criminals, though records say illegal border crossings have decreased in recent years and that migrants commit crimes at lower rates than U.S. citizens.
    In the meantime, aides signaled that Trump would not use the remarks to declare a national emergency on the border, though that remains an option if new negotiations fail to yield a deal.
    The president has refused to sign any spending bills to re-open the government unless they include $5.7 billion for some kind of border barrier, be it a wall or a “steel slat” fence.    Democrats, who now control the House of Representatives, have refused to support the wall, calling it too expensive and ineffective, instead supporting technology and additional manpower to secure the border.
    Meanwhile, government workers at the border are reporting to work but not getting paid because of the shutdown.
    At times this month, Trump has discussed declaring some sort of “national emergency” on the border, a move that theoretically would allow him to use defense money for his border – but also one that would invite a lawsuit from Democrats who say the president lacks the legal authority for such a move.
    On a visit to the Texas border Jan. 10, Trump lamented that “the people that are coming in – the criminals, the gangs, the traffickers, the drugs – it’s all crime.”    Government data shows that most illegal drugs intercepted at the border come through legal ports of entry.
President Donald Trump speaks Saturday on immigration and border security. ALEX BRANDON/AP S

1/20/2019 Greeks rally against Macedonia name accord, police fire tear gas
Protesters throw smoke grenades during a demonstration against the agreement reached by Greece and Macedonia
to resolve a dispute over the former Yugoslav republic's name, in Athens, Greece, January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis
    ATHENS (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of Greeks rallied in Athens on Sunday to protest against a deal with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia that settles a row between the two countries and is set for a vote in Greece’s parliament next week.
    Soon after the rally started at 1200 GMT, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters outside parliament as demonstrators chanted Macedonia is Greek and waved Greek flags.
    The rally was one of the biggest demonstrations in Athens, over the Macedonia name agreement.
    Many Greeks believe the name Macedonia implies a territorial claim over their country’s own northern region of that name.
    The issue evokes strong emotions among Greeks who consider Macedonia, the ancient kingdom ruled by Alexander the Great, to be an integral part of their homeland and heritage.
    The accord clinched between Athens and Skopje was ratified by Macedonia’s parliament this month.    Greek parliamentary endorsement is a necessary step for the tiny Balkan nation to start the process to join the European Union and NATO.
(Reporting by Michele Kambas and George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
[Maybe they should rename Macedonia province, "South Macedonia" to distinguish it to represent its history.].

1/20/2019 Police fire tear gas as Greeks protest against Macedonia name deal by George Georgiopoulos and Michele Kambas
Protesters clash with police officers during a demonstration against the agreement
reached by Greece and Macedonia to resolve a dispute over the former Yugoslav republic's name,
in Athens, Greece, January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis
    ATHENS (Reuters) – Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters outside parliament on Sunday as tens of thousands of Greeks rallied in Athens to protest ahead of next week’s parliamentary vote to ratify a name deal with Macedonia.
    Central Athens turned into a sea of people holding blue and white Greek flags as thousands came from all over the country to rally against the accord to name the ex-Yugoslav state North Macedonia.     Many Greeks believe the name Macedonia implies a territorial claim over their country’s own northern region of that name.
    The issue evokes strong emotions among Greeks who consider Macedonia, the ancient kingdom ruled by Alexander the Great, to be an integral part of their homeland and heritage.
    The accord, signed by the two governments, unblocks the ex-Yugoslav republic’s desire to join NATO and the European Union once it is ratified by Greece’s parliament.
    “We cannot stomach this deal, to give away our Macedonia, our history,” said pensioner Amalia Savrami, 67, as she waved a large Greek flag on Athens’s Syntagma Square.
    “Macedonia is Greek, period.”
    Macedonia declared independence in 1991, avoiding the violence that accompanied much of the break-up of Yugoslavia.    Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has sought to accelerate the country’s bid to join the EU and NATO and to work on resolving the decades-old name dispute with Greece.
    Greece had agreed that until the name dispute is resolved, its northern neighbor, with a population of about 2 million, could be referred to internationally as “FYROM” – Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.    That is the name under which it was admitted to the United Nations in 1993.
    Settling the issue would be hailed as a success by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose left-right coalition came to power in 2015.    He won a confidence motion this month after the junior partner in his coalition pulled out.
    “The Prespes accord is a historic step not only for the two countries and the broader region, but for Europe as a whole.    It cements relations of friendship, cooperation and stability,” Tsipras told Sunday’s Avgi newspaper.
    The agreement with Skopje had strained relations with the right-wing Independent Greeks party, his coalition ally, which objected to the use of Macedonia in any agreed name.
    United Nations diplomat Matthew Nimetz, who has mediated talks between the two countries, said he looked forward to Greece’s ratification of the accord after FYROM delivered on related constitutional amendments.
    “As in the past, the United Nations remains committed to working with the two parties in finally resolving the difference between them,” he said in a statement.
    Greek police said that 10 officers were wounded in clashes with demonstrators after being attacked with stones and petrol bombs.
(Additional reporting by Renee Maltezou and Lefteris Papadimas; editing by Janet Lawrence and David Goodman)

1/20/2019 U.S. is aware of need to protect Kurds: French minister
FILE PHOTO: French Defence Minister Florence Parly visits Euronaval, the world naval defence
exhibition in Le Bourget near Paris, France, October 23, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
    PARIS (Reuters) – The United States is increasingly aware of the importance of protecting its Kurdish allies even as it withdraws from Syria, French defense minister Florence Parly said on Sunday.
    U.S. President Donald Trump said in December that Washington would withdraw the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops it has in Syria, raising fears for the fate of its allies among Kurdish forces who are seen as enemies by neighboring Turkey.
    “This question about the necessity to protect them has been taken into consideration by the Americans,” Parly told a program hosted by France Info, France Inter and Le Monde newspaper.
    “The Kurds have been the best partners of the coalition,” added Parly, referring to an international coalition of countries, including the United States, fighting Islamic State.
    Alarmed by the U.S. decision to leave Syria, Kurdish leaders who run much of the north have been urging Russia and its ally Damascus to send forces to shield the border from the threat of a Turkish offensive.
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

1/20/2019 VP Pence: Buzzfeed report shows how obsessed media is to attack Pres. Trump by OAN Newsroom
Vice President Mike Pence waves as he deplanes at an air force base in Guatemala City,
on June 28, 2018. Pence was starting a trip to meet with the leaders of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras
regarding immigration issues.(Photo: Luis Soto, AP)
    Vice President Mike Pence speaks out on the Buzzfeed report, saying it shows how obsessed the media is about attacking the president.
    In an interview on Sunday, Pence said it was “remarkable” to see how the media responded to the story and how democrats were so willing to believe it to be true.
    He claims reports like these are the reason why so many people are frustrated with the media.
    Pence maintains the White House has fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation, adding the American people should be confident in them.

1/20/2019 Report: 48 of 64 freshman democrats don’t support impeachment of President Trump by OAN Newsroom
    A new report finds freshman democrat lawmakers don’t support the idea of impeaching President Trump.
    According to Axios on Sunday, 48 of the 64 newly-sworn-in democrats say congress should wait for the Mueller report before considering impeachment.
    This comes as only freshman representative from Michigan Rashida Tlaib used inappropriate language to call for impeachment.     However, the report found newly-elected democrats prefer launching new probes into President Trump to hinder his agenda.
[They will be shocked when it is released and there is nothing there to justify impeachment.].

1/20/2019 Pompeo: The U.S. will not be getting out of the Middle East by OAN Newsroom
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the U.S. is absolutely not getting out the the Middle East.
    Pompeo made this remark during an interview on Friday, adding the decision to pull American troops out of Syria is a tactical move.
    He said the “U.S. is a force for good in the region…and the move to withdraw troops is intended to keep Americans safe.”
    The Secretary added the U.S. still has tremendous reach in the Middle East and, even now, the fight against ISIS still continues.

1/20/2019 House Homeland Security chair says he won’t rule out walls in certain area by OAN Newsroom
Bennie Thompson (D-MISS.) official photo
    The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee says he “would not rule out a wall” that the President wants.
    In an interview on Sunday, democrat Congressman Bennie Thompson broke with his party, saying he would only support a physical barrier under certain circumstances.
    Chairman Thompson also stated it is not true that we cannot have barriers at the border.
    Directing remarks to President Trump in his interview, Thompson stated “ the President, as the chair of the Homeland Security, [Committee] I’m saying we’ll sit down and talk about the situations, and we’ll work through it.”
    He also said democrats are for border security but they’re not for constantly moving the ball as a talking point.
[Finally there is an adult in the Democrat party.].

1/20/2019 Sen. Kennedy: Pres. Trump’s proposal to end the shutdown represents progress by OAN Newsroom
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ** FILE **
    Senator John Kennedy (R-L.A.) says he will vote for President’s Trump’s latest proposal to reopen the federal government.
    Speaking on Fox’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Senator Kennedy praised the President’s proposal, saying it represents “progress” in the ongoing bipartisan talks.
    He added, however, the initiative isn’t perfect.
    On Saturday, the President proposed a 3-year extension of immigration status for DACA-recipients and temporarily-protected migrants, in exchange for border wall funding.
    Senator Kennedy also said centrist democrats could back the President’s offer, adding “I can promise you that the more centrist democrats right now are glad the President put something on the table.”
    Further, Kennedy warned democrats from “bringing a plan to him [President Trump] that doesn’t include a wall, it’s dead as four o’clock.”
    For his part, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY) said he would bring the President’s proposal up for a vote this week.

1/20/2019 Giuliani: Buzzfeed should be investigated for Cohen report by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this May 5, 2018, file photo, Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for President Donald Trump, speaks at the Iran Freedom Convention
for Human Rights and democracy in Washington. Giuliani is categorically ruling out the possibility of a presidential
interview with special counsel Robert Mueller. Giuliani told “Fox News Sunday” that an interview would happen “over my dead body.” (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
    The President’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, says Buzzfeed “should be investigated for their story on Michael Cohen."
    Giuliani made the comment in an interview with CNN on Sunday, calling the report “scandalous” and “horrible/i>.”
    He also criticized the outlet’s decision to run the story, which has since been disputed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
    Speaking on Sunday, the former-mayor of New York said the publication “bought a totally phony story.”    He added the report’s authors “,i>weren’t going to buy it unless they got some phony stuff about federal agents, and then they went with it because they are the same ones who published the Steele Dossier, when no one else would do it
.”     Giuliani continues to maintain that, as far as he knows, the President never told Cohen to lie to congress.

1/21/2019 Giuliani says Trump didn’t tell Cohen to lie by William Cummings, USA TODAY
    Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s lawyer, said Sunday that he is “100 percent certain” that the president did not tell his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress, in response to a BuzzFeed News report that made that allegation.
    “I knew from the very beginning it wasn’t true,” the former New York City mayor said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” when asked about the BuzzFeed story that was published Thursday.
    The BuzzFeed News report cited two federal law enforcement officials who said Trump directed Cohen to lie during his congressional testimony about the efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.    The report said there were documents and witnesses to support the allegation.    But special counsel Robert Mueller’s office said in a rare public statement Friday that the BuzzFeed report was inaccurate.
    “To their credit, the Justice Department and the special counsel’s office said that the story was inaccurate,” Giuliani said Sunday on “Meet the Press.”    “And the inaccuracy is that there’s no evidence that the president told him to lie.”

1/21/2019 Bowing to U.S. pressure, Germany bans Iran airline from its airspace
An Airbus A340-300 of Iranian airline Mahan Air takes off from Duesseldorf airport DUS,
Germany January 16, 2019. Picture taken January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
    BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany has bowed to U.S. pressure to ban from its airspace an Iranian airline accused of ferrying weapons and advisers to help support President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces in Syria’s civil war.
    A senior German government source told Reuters on Monday that Berlin had revoked the landing rights of Mahan Air due to suspicions that it was being used for military purposes by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and also on safety grounds.
    The measure did not constitute the imposition of general sanctions against Iran, the source said.
    The withdrawal of Mahan’s operating license, first reported by Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and public broadcastsers NDR and WDR, follows a concerted campaign by the United States, which first listed the airline as a sanctions target in 2011.
    In September, Richard Grenell, the outspoken U.S. ambassador to Berlin, tweeted his objections to the airline continuing to operate in Germany.    “Mahan Air has routinely flown fighters and materiel to Syria to prop up the Assad regime,” a linked embassy press release stated.
    “Why is Mahan Air allowed to fly into Munich and Duesseldorf,” he asked on Twitter.    “I’m going to keep asking everyday [sic].”    The statement also threatened companies that dealt with Mahan with U.S. sanctions.
    European countries have been under sustained U.S. pressure to reimpose sanctions on Iran since President Donald Trump last year pulled Washington out of a nuclear non-proliferation treaty it had reached with Tehran under his predecessor Barack Obama.
    Along with Iran, the other signatories to the deal – Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China – are still trying to keep it alive.
    The European countries, with more extensive economic ties to Iran and mindful of the threat that would be posed by another nuclear state in their immediate neighborhood, have sought to shield themselves from the impact of Washington’s extra-territorial sanctions, with limited success.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke, writing by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Gareth Jones)

1/21/2019 Mexico registers 3.7K caravan migrants for work permits, humanitarian aid by OAN Newsroom
    Thousands of caravan migrants have applied for visas and job permits in Mexico after facing tough security at the U.S. border.
    According to Mexican officials, 3,700 Central American migrants have applied for immigration status since Saturday.    They said migrants are seeking humanitarian aid and immigration documents, which have been promised to them by the Mexican government.
Migrants of Honduras and El Salvador stand in line waiting to enter bridge over the Suchiate River on the border
between Guatemala and Mexico, in Tecun Uman, Guatemala, early Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
    Officials said the rise in applications comes after previous caravans have failed to enter the U.S. over the past few weeks.    However, some migrants are saying the application process is taking too long.
    “People from here have said that for our process, they’re going to give us the Mexican visa.    We are here for that because supposedly they are giving us the visa within five-days, but we have been here for three-months and we have not seen them give us anything.” — Lucila Lopez, Salvadorian migrant in Mexico.
    Mexican officials also said their new immigration policy comes in response to President Trump’s calls for assistance with border security.

1/21/2019 Ecuador looks to tighten control over Venezuelan immigrants by OAN Newsroom
    A community is coming together for an Ecuadorian woman who was slain by a Venezuelan immigrant.    Hundreds of people gathered Sunday to honor the victim and asked the government to change their immigration policies.
    According to police, a pregnant Ecuadorian woman named Diana Carolina was killed by her Venezuelan ex-boyfriend Saturday.    He reportedly held her hostage on a busy street for about an hour before stabbing her to death.
FILE – Venezuelan migrants walk along the Ecuadorean highway. (Photo/Reuters)
    Ecuador’s Interior Minister — Maria Paula Romo — recently spoke about the migration crisis.    She said the government is creating a method to keep track of Venezuelans entering the country.
    “The province’s level of migration also adds new conflicts to the area,” stated Minister Romo.    “As you already know, President Moreno has announced that he has arranged for the foreign ministry to regulate a special permit of entry.”
    Ecuador estimates around 1.3 million Venezuelans entered the country last year.

1/21/2019 Sen. Kamala Harris officially launches bid for presidency by OAN Newsroom
In this Jan. 9, 2019 photo, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., greets the audience at George Washington University
in Washington, during an event kicking off her book tour (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)
    California Senator Kamala Harris has officially thrown her hat in the ring as she is running for president in 2020.
    Senator Harris made the announcement in a campaign video released Monday, focusing on “truth,” “justice,” “decency” and “equality.”
    She then invited viewers to join her in Oakland, California on Sunday for her campaign’s official launch.
    Her bid comes after months of speculation surrounding the Democrat lawmaker, who was only elected to the Senate in 2016.

1/21/2019 Venezuela arrests rogue officers after military revolt in Caracas by Mayela Armas and Brian Ellsworth
An armored vehicle is seen outside an outpost of the Venezuelan National Guards during
a protest in Caracas, Venezuela January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
    CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s government said on Monday it had suppressed a military revolt after a group of officers stole weapons and kidnapped several officials, as a video posted online showed a sergeant demanding the removal of President Nicolas Maduro.
    Some two dozen officers attacked a National Guard outpost in the Caracas neighborhood of Cotiza, a kilometer (0.6 mile) from the presidential Miraflores palace, where they met “firm resistance,” the government said.    Witnesses reported hearing gunshots at about 3 a.m. (0700 GMT).
    Protesters later burned trash and a car outside the outpost, where the 25 officers were arrested, in a sign of growing tensions following Maduro’s inauguration to a second term that governments around the world have called illegitimate.
    Though the incident signals discontent within the armed forces, it appeared to involve only low-ranking officers with little capacity to force change in the hyperinflationary economy as many people suffer from shortages of food and medicine.
    “The armed forces categorically reject this type of action, which is most certainly motivated by the dark interests of the extreme right,” the government said in a statement read out on state television.
    Maduro was inaugurated on Jan. 10 under an avalanche of criticism that his leadership was illegitimate following a 2018 election widely viewed as fraudulent, with countries around the world disavowing his government.
    Opposition leaders and exiled dissidents have called on the armed forces to turn against Maduro, which the president has denounced as efforts to encourage a coup against him.
    The opposition-controlled congress’s head, Juan Guaido, said the uprising was a sign of the armed forces’ discontent.    Congress was committed to offering guarantees to officers who helped with “the constitution’s reconstitution,” he said, though he did not want the military to fall into internal conflict.
    “We want it to stand as one man on the side of the people, the constitution, and against the usurpation,” he said on Twitter.
    Venezuela’s pro-government Supreme Court ruled on Monday that it did not recognize Guaido as head of congress and declared that all the body’s actions were null and void.
    Guaido, who was elected to head Congress on Jan. 5, has said he is willing to replace Maduro as interim president if he has the support of the military, with the aim of then calling free elections.    Congress declared Maduro an “usurper” last week.
    Supreme Court Judge Juan Jose Mendoza asked the state prosecutor’s office to determine whether the congress’ leadership had committed crimes.
    In the videos that circulated on Twitter, a group of armed soldiers stood in darkness apparently at the Cotiza outpost while their leader addressed the camera and called for Venezuelans to support their revolt.
    “You all asked that we take to the streets to defend the constitution.    Here we are.    Here we have the troops.    It’s today when the people come out to support us,” said the man in the video, who identified himself as Luis Bandres.
    The government said the officers took two vehicles from a police station in the western Macarao district before driving across the city to a barracks in the eastern Petare slum, where they stole an arms cache and kidnapped four officials.
    After they attacked the Cotiza outpost, security forces surrounded them.    In response, several dozen residents barricaded streets and set fire to rubbish as they chanted “Don’t hand yourself in,” according to Reuters witnesses.    Troops fired tear gas to disperse them.
    “These soldiers are right to rise up.    We need a political change, because we don’t have any water or electricity,” said Angel Rivas, a 49-year-old laborer at the protest.
    Diosdado Cabello, president of the Constituent Assembly, an all-powerful legislature, said authorities had arrested 25 officers at the outpost and two others at an unspecified site.    At a news conference, he said he “couldn’t care less” about Guaido.
    The United States and many Latin American nations say Maduro has become a dictator whose failed state-led policies have plunged Venezuela into its worst ever economic crisis, with inflation approaching 2 million percent.
    U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has indicated its support for Guaido and, according to people familiar with the matter, is considering recognizing him as Venezuela’s legitimate president.
    Maduro says a U.S.-directed “economic war” is trying to force him from power.
(Additional reporting by Vivian Sequera and Corina Pons; Writing by Brian Ellsworth and Angus Berwick; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

1/21/2019 Mexico pipeline explosion killed 89, Pemex defends response by Adriana Barrera
Residents search for human remains and items that could help to identify their missing relatives
and friends at the site where a pipeline ruptured by oil thieves exploded, in the municipality
of Tlahuelilpan, state of Hidalgo, Mexico January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A gasoline pipeline explosion in central Mexico last week killed at least 89 people, the country’s health minister said on Monday, while an official with the state-owned oil company defended its response to the leak.
    There were also 51 people injured, Health Minister Jorge Alcocer told a morning news conference. Friday’s pipeline blast happened after hundreds of people has rushed to collect fuel from the gushing pipe.
    Over the weekend, a series of possible missteps by the current government became clear, from the delay in shutting off the pipeline, to relatives saying fuel shortages caused by the government’s anti-theft policy attracted people to the leak.
    Mexican Attorney General Alejandro Gertz said that any negligence by authorities is being investigated and that officials involved would be called in to answer questions this week.
    “It’s a fundamental issue, the chronology of the events must become absolutely clear.”
    A Pemex engineer told a news conference on Monday that at first the leak was just a “small puddle” but later grew into a “fountain.”    Within 20 minutes of that assessment, the engineer said, the company was able to “take actions.”
    It was not clear if those actions included shutting off the flow of fuel in the pipeline.
    Pemex Chief Executive Octavio Romero said his team had followed protocol, though he would not confirm or deny if there was negligence or corruption related to the delay in closing the pipeline.
    “Everything will be looked at,” he said.
(Reporting by Adriana Barrera and Noe Torres; Writing by Christine Murray; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Nick Zieminski)

1/21/2019 Venezuela gold holdings in Bank of England soar on Deutsche deal: sources by Mayela Armas and Corina Pons
FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro touches a gold bar as he speaks during a meeting with the ministers
responsible for the economic sector at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo
    CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s gold holdings in the Bank of England have jumped after it closed out a gold swap deal with Deutsche Bank, according to two sources, as Britain remains reluctant to release gold held for the troubled OPEC nation.
    The government of Nicolas Maduro has since last year been seeking to repatriate about $550 million in gold from the Bank of England on fears it could be caught up in international sanctions on the country.
    Its holdings at the bank more than doubled in December to 31 tonnes, or around $1.3 billion, after Venezuela returned funds it had borrowed from Deutsche Bank AG through a financing arrangement that uses gold as collateral, known as a swap, one of the sources said.
    Under the deal struck with Deutsche Bank in 2015, Venezuela put up 17 tonnes of gold in exchange for a loan, according to one of the sources who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the issue.
    The country’s gold holdings fell to 134 tonnes in November compared with 150 tonnes at the start of 2018, according to central bank statistics.
    This is in part because Venezuela last year started carrying out gold barter operations with Turkey to import food following U.S. sanctions that have made international banks reluctant to handle Venezuelan transactions.
    The motivation for paying back the funds from the Deutsche swap was not immediately evident.    But redeeming the swap would give Venezuela more gold for barter operations with Turkey.
    Deutsche Bank declined to comment.    Venezuela’s Central Bank did not reply to an email seeking comment.
    The Bank of England said in a statement that it does not comment on customer relationships.
    “In all its operations, the Bank observes the highest standards of risk management and abides by all relevant legislation, including applicable financial sanctions,” the statement added.
    The Bank of England is facing political pressure from Venezuela’s opposition and from members of British parliament to not assist Maduro, whose just-begun second term has been widely described as illegitimate.
    Losing the gold would be a significant blow to the country’s finances by undermining Venezuela’s ability to obtain hard currency crucial to importing items ranging from food and medicine to auto parts and consumer electronics.
    But refusing to hand over the gold, which belongs to Venezuela’s central bank, could cause alarm among countries that store their own bullion in the Bank of England’s coffers.
    Maduro’s government is struggling under hyperinflation now approaching 2 million percent annually, and a broad economic collapse has fueled an exodus of some three million people since 2015.
    Opposition critics, including exiled leader Julio Borges, have argued that the gold should not be repatriated because it could be used to finance corruption.
    Calixto Ortega, president of Venezuela’s central bank, met with Bank of England officials in December to discuss repatriating the gold but was unable to convince them, according to sources familiar with the situation.
    Venezuela for decades stored gold that makes up its central bank reserves in foreign bank vaults, which is common among developing nations.
    The country’s late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, citing the need for Venezuela to have physical control of central bank assets, in 2011 repatriated around 160 tonnes of gold from banks in the United States and Europe to the central bank in Caracas.
    Maduro says his government is victim of an “economic war” led by the opposition and fueled by Washington’s sanctions.    His critics blame the country’s struggles on a state-led economic model, stringent exchange controls and nationalization of private companies.
(Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Nick Zieminski)

1/21/2019 President Trump slams House Speaker Pelosi over her anti-wall stance by OAN Newsroom
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, speaks as she stands next to
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., left, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., right, following their meeting with
President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    President Trump continues to bash House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for refusing to agree on a compromise over a border wall.
    Taking to Twitter on Monday, the president said “if [Nancy] Pelosi thinks walls are ‘immoral’ then why isn’t she requesting that we take take down all the existing walls between the U.S. and Mexico?
    Trump tweet: “If Nancy Pelosi thinks that Walls are “immoral,” why isn’t she requesting that we take down all of the existing Walls between the U.S. and Mexico, even the new ones just built in San Diego at their very strong urging.    Let millions of unchecked “strangers” just flow into the U.S.
    He also referred to the walls that were recently build along the San Diego port-of-entry.
    This comes as the Senate is expected to discuss President Trump’s proposal on Tuesday, where the measure could be brought forward for a vote.

1/21/2019 Sen. Graham announces Senate probes into Obama-era scandals by OAN Newsroom
    Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) outlines several Obama-era scandals the Senate Judiciary Committee will probe now that he’s chairman.
FILE – In this Sept. 21, 2018, file photo, former President Barack Obama speaks as he campaigns in support
of Pennsylvania candidates in Philadelphia. Obama is expanding his influence ahead of November’s midterm elections.
On Oct. 1, he released a second slate of endorsements for Democrats running for offices ranging from local
to national, bringing the total to more than 300. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
    The South Carolina republican said Monday the committee will investigate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private use of a private email server, and alleged abuse of the FISA Court by top Obama officials.
    His announcement stirred dismay and anxiety among democrats.    Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) accused Graham of endorsing conspiracy theories, while fellow democrat Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) called the probes a “political stunt.”
    Graham responded saying looking into the issues are necessary to see the full picture of what happened during the 2016 presidential campaign.
[Too bad, Democrats it is true and if they do their job I suggest you change parties before all of you may get prison sentences, including Obama if the ones who get charges rat on him.].

1/21/2019 Pres. Trump responds to Covington High School, says students treated unfairly by media by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump responds to the false allegations made against students from Covington Catholic High School.
    The President said it now appears the students were treated unfairly in a tweet on Monday.
    Trump tweet: “Looking like Nick Sandman & Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly with early judgements proving out to be false - smeared by media. Not good, but making big comeback! “New footage shows that media was wrong about teen’s encounter with Native American” @TuckerCarlson.”
    His comments come as a response to students from the Park Hills high school being accused of racism for their confrontation with Native American elder and Vietnam veteran Nathan Phillips, who we now know provoked the situation.
    He says the early judgments against the students, specifically Nick Sandmann, are proving to be false.
    President Trump added the minors were smeared by the media as new footage shows critics were wrong about the kids’ encounter with Phillips, who later lied about.

1/22/2019 Covington Catholic has been focus of national controversy - ‘Our boys were set up,’ chaperone says by Scott Wartman, Cincinnati Enquirer USA TODAY NETWORK
    Many have asked: Where were the chaperones during the confrontation between Covington Catholic High School students, Native American marchers and Black Hebrew Israelites in Washington, D.C.?
    It turns out there were at least five on the scene, one of the chaperones told The Cincinnati Enquirer, part of the USA TODAY Network, on Monday.
    That chaperone, Val Andreev, stands by how they handled the situation.
    “There was nothing the chaperones could have done differently,” said Andreev, a Hebron resident.    “I’m very proud the way the boys handled the situation.”
    Andreev and his 14-year-old son joined about 20 other chaperones and 240 students from Covington Catholic for Friday’s March for Life rally.
    They made it back home Saturday without realizing they were involved in a national controversy, Andreev said.
    The video of Covington Catholic students around Native Americans in front of the Lincoln Memorial and chanting sparked a firestorm across the country.
    They saw Covington Catholic junior Nick Sandmann, wearing a red Make America Great Again hat, standing inches from Omaha elder Nathan Phillips, who is chanting and playing a drum.    Other students surround them laughing and cheering.
    Andreev said he didn’t see the start of the interaction between Sandmann and Phillips.    He said he walked up to the scene in the middle of it.    The students were waiting for the buses to take them home when a group of about 150 of them started arguing back and forth with a group of Black Israelites.    Videos show the Black Israelites yelling derogatory statements at people.
    No one with the Covington Catholic group at the time saw it as a confrontation, Andreev said.    They didn’t think anything of it until the next day when social media erupted with outrage.
    “If you look at any videos, there was no confrontation,” Andreev said.    “There was nothing to control.    There was not any aggression.”
    He said another chaperone made the Covington Catholic boys move farther back from the Native American protesters.    He didn’t hear any of the students chant “build that wall.”    He said chaperones gave permission for the students to chant “school spirit” slogans in response to some members of the Black Israelites yelling obscenities at them.
    He backed Sandmann’s statement that Phillips and the Native Americans approached them.    He believes the students were targeted by the Native American protesters because some were wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats.
    “Our boys were set up for this event,” Andreev said.    “It was staged.”
    The Covington Catholic students were not singled out and it wasn’t staged, said Chase Iron Eyes, spokesman for the Indigenous Peoples March and an attorney for the Lakota People’s Law Project.    The scene between the Black Israelites and the high school students had become a “tinderbox,” Iron Eyes said.    The Black Israelites had been harassing people all day, he said.    Why would a chaperone allow students to start chanting back?
    “When it presented itself as a tinderbox and an explosive environment, that is when our elder began to make his way to defuse the situation,” Iron Eyes said.    “You don’t ask a chaperone to be rambunctious to defuse a situation.    I call that a flat-out lie.”
    As more videos emerge and students begin to tell their sides of the story, officials with Covington Catholic and the Diocese of Covington have remained silent.
    The diocese hasn’t changed or followed up on its original statement Saturday condemning the actions of the students.     Calls to school and diocesan officials were not returned Monday.
    “We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C.,” diocesan spokesperson Laura Keener said in a statement Saturday.    “We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips.    This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.”
    She said the incident is being investigated and that students could be expelled or otherwise punished.
    There is no word on if Covington Catholic staff were with the students or if they face discipline.
    Sandmann released a lengthy statement Sunday night in which he said: “I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to (defuse) the situation.    I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict.    I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand. ...'
    “I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation.”
    Phillips said some of the members of the Black Hebrew group were also acting up, “saying some harsh things” and that one member spit in the direction of the Catholic students.
    “So I put myself in between that, between a rock and hard place,” he said.
    There is no word on if Covington Catholic staff were with the students or if they face discipline.
Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann and Native American activist Nathan Phillips seen
in a confrontation that has drawn national attention. SURVIVAL MEDIA AGENCY VIA AP

1/22/20019 French, German leaders try to re-energize embattled EU project by Erol Dogrudogan
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a signing of a new agreement on bilateral cooperation
and integration, known as Treaty of Aachen, in Aachen, Germany, January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
    AACHEN, Germany (Reuters) – The leaders of France and Germany meet on Tuesday to deepen a 1963 treaty of post-war reconciliation in a bid to show that the European Union’s main axis remains strong and counter growing eurosceptic nationalism among some other members.
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron will sign the extension to the Elysee Treaty in the German border city of Aachen, an historical symbol of European concord, before holding a discussion with citizens.
    “We want to give an impulse to European unity,” Merkel said in her weekly podcast on Saturday.
    As she waited to welcome Macron at the Aachen city hall to sign the updated treaty, some people gathered outside with blue and yellow EU balloons.    Another group wore the yellow vests adorned by members of a grassroots rebellion against Macron.
    Though short on detail, the treaty extension, negotiated over the past year, stipulates that it will be a priority of German-French diplomacy for Germany to be accepted as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
    Germany has for years sought greater influence within the international body, to which its closest allies the United States, Britain and France belong.
    While making clear that Germany and France remain committed to the EU and NATO defense alliance, the agreement also signals that Berlin and Paris will combat efforts by some nationalist politicians in Europe to erode the 28-nation EU.
    Facing new challenges from U.S. President Donald Trump in the United States as well as EU governments in Italy, Poland and Hungary, Merkel and Macron are keen to head off any breakthrough for eurosceptic parties in the European Parliament vote.
    Franco-German treaties are supposed to be milestones in the process of European integration, paving the way for the bloc as a whole to deepen cooperation.
    But its signatories, both of whom have struggled to maintain their authority over their own domestic politics, have failed this time to produce the wide-ranging vision to really enthuse Europhiles.
    Eurosceptics also voiced their opposition. Alexander Gauland, leader in parliament of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), said: “French President Macron cannot maintain order in his own country.    The nationwide protests in France are never ending.    So it is inappropriate, if this failing president imposes visions on us for the future of Germany.”
    “The EU is now deeply divided.    A German-French special relationship will alienate us even further from the other Europeans,” he said.
    “Relaunching” Europe will also have to wait until after Brexit is settled and this year’s hard-fought European Parliament elections in May.
    The original Elysee Treaty was signed in 1963 by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and President Charles de Gaulle, who in the same year vetoed the British application to join the European Community, the precursor of today’s European Union.
(Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Alison Williams)

1/22/2019 Senate Republicans introduce bill to reopen government as shutdown hits 32nd day by OAN Newsroom
    Senate Republicans are releasing a bill to reopen the government.    The legislation relates with the president’s proposal he unveiled in his address Saturday, which calls for $5.7 billion for a physical barrier at the southern border and funding for nine closed government agencies.
    It also grants a three-year extension for DACA recipients and those under temporary protective status.    A plan to ease the asylum process for Central American migrants is also included.
    During his address, the president called on lawmakers to support this proposal, so the 32-day long shutdown can come to an end.
    “I want this to end, and end now.    These are not talking points, these are the heartbreaking realities that hurt American families every day on both sides of the border.    As a candidate for president, I promised I would fix this crisis, and I intend to keep that promise one way or another.” — President Donald Trump.
President Donald Trump speaks about the partial government shutdown, immigration and border security
in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    Senate Republicans said they plan to vote on the bill this week, however, no Democrats have voiced their support for the legislation.
    Meanwhile, Democrat Senator Joe Manchin remains on the fence about the president proposal to end the shutdown despite his initial optimism about the deal.    On Monday, a spokesperson for the West Virginia lawmaker said Manchin is waiting to see the final draft of the proposal before making a decision.
    This comes after Manchin tweeted on Saturday, saying he was looking forward to working with both sides to make the immigration reforms proposed by President Trump happen. However, Democrat leadership has since slammed the plan as a non-starter.

1/22/2019 President Trump slams DOJ probes after top FBI lawyer confirms ‘unusual steps’ by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump is calling out the federal investigations into his 2016 campaign after recent testimony by an FBI lawyer confirmed the agency went outside the box when conducting the Russia probe.
    In a tweet Tuesday, the president said a top FBI lawyer confirmed “unusual steps” were taken in the investigation.    He said they relied on the Clinton campaign’s fake and unverified dossier, which is illegal.
    President Trump then cited Judge Andrew Napolitano stating, “that has corrupted and enabled them to gather evidence by unconstitutional means.”
    Trump Tweet: “FBI top lawyer confirms “unusual steps.” They relied on the Clinton Campaign’s Fake & Unverified “Dossier,” which is illegal. “That has corrupted them. That has enabled them to gather evidence by UNCONSTITUTIONAL MEANS, and that’s what they did to the President.” Judge Napolitano
    The concerns come after the testimony of former FBI lawyer James Baker was released, regarding the steps taken during the Russia investigation.
James Baker is pictured. (AP/Photo)
[It looks like they may have the wrong image above as seen on my 1/16/2019 article Former Top FBI Lawyer James Baker Investigated for Leaking to Media by Petr Svab, The Epoch Times,
and seen below, or he got old very fast.    There is a James Baker who worked for former presidents, but the image below is the one in Obama administation.
L: James Baker. (Federal Bureau of Investigation); R: The Federal Bureau of Investigation
Headquarters in Washington on Dec. 7, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)]

1/22/2019 President Trump slams DOJ probes after top FBI lawyer confirms ‘unusual steps’ by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump is calling out the federal investigations into his 2016 campaign after recent testimony by an FBI lawyer confirmed the agency went outside the box when conducting the Russia probe.
    In a tweet Tuesday, the president said a top FBI lawyer confirmed “unusual steps” were taken in the investigation.    He said they relied on the Clinton campaign’s fake and unverified dossier, which is illegal.
    Trump tweet: “FBI top lawyer confirms “unusual steps.” They relied on the Clinton Campaign’s Fake & Unverified “Dossier,” which is illegal. “That has corrupted them. That has enabled them to gather evidence by UNCONSTITUTIONAL MEANS, and that’s what they did to the President.” Judge Napolitano.”
    President Trump then cited Judge Andrew Napolitano stating, “that has corrupted and enabled them to gather evidence by unconstitutional means.”     The concerns come after the testimony of former FBI lawyer James Baker was released, regarding the steps taken during the Russia investigation.

1/22/2019 Biden takes blame for drug laws, refers to voting for legislation to toughen sentences by OAN Newsroom
    Former Vice President Joe Biden recently took responsibility for his role in fueling the nation’s war on drugs.
    Biden attended a breakfast Monday, which was hosted by Reverend Al Sharpton to celebrate Martin Luther King Junior Day.    While addressing the crowd in Washington, Biden accepted the blame for passing the 1980 legislation that took a hard stance on crack cocaine.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, speaks during a breakfast gathering commemorating the
Martin Luther King Day in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    That legislation enacted federal mandatory minimum sentences for drug use and trafficking, and increased funding for U.S. prisons.    He claimed he has learned from his mistakes.
    “I haven’t always been right.    I know we haven’t always gotten things right, but I’ve always tried.    Rev. (Al Sharpton) it was your help back in 2010 that Barack (Obama) and I finally reduced the disparity and sentencing, which we had been fighting to eliminate in crack cocaine versus powder cocaine.    It was a big mistake when it was made.    We thought, we were told by the experts that ‘crack you never go back.’    It was somehow fundamentally different.    It’s not different, but it’s trapped an entire generation.” — Joe Biden
    Biden is viewed as a likely candidate and front-runner for the 2020 presidential race, but is yet to announce his decision.
[But Joe are you not going to tell us about all the other mistakes Obama made as he almost destroyed this country in 8 years, and Trump had to come back and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.].

1/22/2019 ‘Hola, I’m Mike Pence’: U.S. VP delivers message of support to Venezuelans by Jeff Mason
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the Missile Defense Review announcement
at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., January 17, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence issued a video message of support to Venezuelans on Tuesday to encourage those who are protesting against President Nicolas Maduro and underline U.S. backing for opposition leader Juan Guaido.
    Venezuela’s opposition on Wednesday plans to hold marches nationwide as part of an annual event that marks the fall of a military government in 1958.    Government critics are increasingly comparing Maduro to dictator Marcos Perez, who was pushed from power that year.
    In a taped video message in English with a few Spanish words and phrases mixed in, Pence, who has lashed out at Maduro before, declared him a “dictator” who has no rightful claim to power.
    “On behalf of President Donald Trump and all the American people, let me express the unwavering support of the United States as you, the people of Venezuela, raise your voices in a call for freedom,” Pence said after offering a greeting of “hola,” which means “hello” in Spanish.
    “Nicolas Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power.    He has never won the presidency in a free and fair election, and has maintained his grip of power by imprisoning anyone who dares to oppose him.”
    Pence declared U.S. support again for Guaido, with whom he spoke by phone earlier this month, and the National Assembly, which he leads, as the “last vestige of democracy.”    Pence said Washington supported Guaido’s decision to assert the body’s powers, declare Maduro a “usurper” and push for a transitional government to be established.
    “As you make your voices heard tomorrow, on behalf of the American people, we say to all the good people of Venezuela: estamos con ustedes,” Pence said, following up with the translation in English: “We are with you, we stand with you, and we will stay with you until democracy is restored and you reclaim your birthright of libertad.”
    Maduro was inaugurated on Jan. 10 amid worldwide criticism that his leadership was illegitimate after a 2018 election that was widely viewed as fraudulent.
    Pence has largely taken the lead within the Trump administration in condemning Maduro.    He called the inauguration a sham and made clear the United States did not recognize the election result.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason, additional reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

1/22/2019 President Trump: U.S. has great economic story by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump is celebrating the success of the U.S. economy, while other large economies — specifically China — are seeing disappointing figures.
    In a tweet Tuesday, the president said the U.S. has a great economic story to tell.    He claimed the U.S. has the number one economy in the world by far.
    Trump tweet: “The United States has a great economic story to tell.    Number one in the World, by far!.”
    The president’s comments come after data released Monday showed China’s economic figures falling below expectations. Many attribute that to the U.S. imposed tariffs, and President Trump’s hardline trade policies.
President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn upon arrival at the White House in Washington,
Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, after attending the casualty return at Dover Air Force Base, Del., for the remains
of four Americans killed in a suicide bomb attack in Syria.. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    The U.S. and China have high-level talks scheduled for next week, and many business leaders and financial experts believe a deal will soon happen.
    “I think initially the Chinese weren’t sure that President Trump really meant what he said about tough on trade, because he was very polite Xi Jinping,” said David Rubenstein, co-founder f Carlyle Group.    “They now realize, in my view, that he’s very serious about this and they also realize this, that if he were to depart tomorrow, there is somebody behind him who supports the same views.”
    Meanwhile, another trade deal that could impact the economy is the agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
    The USMCA still needs to be approved by lawmakers from all three countries involved, however, Canada is expressing optimism that deal will be signed off on.
    “I know the political environment has changed, but we also know that it’s a good deal for Canada, the United States and Mexico, and we can make that argument persuasively as we did throughout negotiation, so I’m confident it will be ratified,” stated James Carr, Canadian Trade Minister.
    President Trump has been confident in the NAFTA replacement, and the agreement has gotten support from both sides of the aisle.
        With the opportunity for both of those deals to be wrapped up sooner rather than later, many believe 2019 has a chance to have the most economic success of any year since the president arrived in the White House.

1/22/2019 White House moving forward with State of the Union plans by OAN Newsroom
    The White House is moving forward with plans for the president to deliver his State of the Union address next week.
    According to reports Tuesday, the White House sent a letter to the Sergeant at Arms asking for a walk through to prepare for the January 29, 2019 speech to Congress.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., listen to
President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Jan. 30. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    It was also reported that the president is preparing two State of the Union speeches — one traditional for Congress and the other for a political rally outside of Washington, D.C. It is unclear where the rally style speech will take place.
    Originally, one version was prepared for if the government was still shutdown and the another if the government was open, but that has evolved to assuming the shutdown will drag on.
    One America News we will be carrying both of the president’s State of the Union addresses, and will have special coverage of the congressional speech with Liz Wheeler.

1/22/2019 Venezuela government says opposition linked to military revolt; party denies charge
Demonstrators stand behind a burning barricade during a protest close to a
National Guard outpost in Caracas, Venezuela January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
    CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s government said on Tuesday that a group of military officers who stole weapons as part of a failed revolt on Monday had delivered the arms to opposition party Popular Will, which the party dismissed as “lies” and an attempt to divert blame.
    Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez provided no evidence for the government’s allegation.
    Some two dozen officers attacked a National Guard outpost in the Caracas neighborhood of Cotiza, a km (0.6 mile) from the presidential Miraflores palace, leading to opposition demonstrations in nearby parts of Caracas.
    Popular Will called the allegation the “same lies and manipulation” and said the party’s struggle to re-establish constitutional order was peaceful.    In a statement on Twitter, Popular Will accused Rodriguez of trying to mask discontent within the military by accusing the party of stealing the arms.
    Government officials often describe Popular Will as a terrorist organization, which the party dismisses as an intimidation tactic.
    “Some of those who stole the weapons yesterday confessed that they were handed over to civilians belonging to the terrorist cell Popular Will,” Rodriguez said in televised statements.
    Rodriguez said the officers involved stole 51 rifles but that authorities had only recovered 40.    The officers were arrested after the incident.
    Rodriguez alleged Popular Will activists planned to use the weapons to create violence during nationwide marches planned by both the government and the opposition for Wednesday.    Popular Will said it neither had nor wanted the weapons.
    Congress has called on citizens to take to the streets to protest against President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday, the 61st anniversary of the collapse of a military dictatorship.
    The marches are held every year, but the opposition is unusually energized following Maduro’s Jan. 10 inauguration to a disputed second term that governments around the world have decried as illegitimate.
    Popular Will lawmaker and congress chief Juan Guaido, who was briefly detained by intelligence agents this month, has received international support amid growing criticism of Maduro. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence released a video on Tuesday in which he expressed support for Venezuela’s opposition and Guaido.
(Reporting by Corina Pons; Writing by Brian Ellsworth and Angus Berwick; Editing by Peter Cooney)

1/22/2019 VP Pence delivers message of support for Venezuelan people protesting Maduro by OAN Newsroom
    Vice President Mike Pence recently delivered a message of support and encouragement to the Venezuelan people protesting the regime of socialist president Nicolas Maduro.
    In a video released Tuesday, the vice president asserted the Venezuelan people have the “unwavering” support of the U.S.    He proceeded to condemn Maduro as a “dictator with no legitimate claim to power,” and called the opposition-led national assembly the last vestige of democracy in the country.
    Pence then praised National Assembly President Juan Guaido for calling for a transitional government to be established.
In this Jan. 11, 2019 photo, Juan Guaido, President of the Venezuelan National Assembly delivers a speech during a public session
with opposition members, at a street in Caracas, Venezuela. The head of Venezuela’s opposition-run congress says that with the
nation’s backing he’s ready to take on Nicolas Maduro’s presidential powers and call new elections.(AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
    Guaido has recently been garnering support throughout the nation for Wednesday’s protest, which is being called a “national march.”
    Vice President Pence reiterated the American people’s commitment to seeing democracy prevail.

1/23/2019 Venezuela’s opposition takes to streets to seize momentum against Maduro by Mayela Armas and Angus Berwick
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with supporters
in Caracas, Venezuela January 22, 2019. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS
    CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelans will take to the streets on Wednesday as the opposition hopes to capitalize on several weeks of momentum and force a change in the government of President Nicolas Maduro, who has overseen economic collapse and the erosion of democracy.
    A spate of protests in Caracas on Monday, sparked by a brief military uprising, have spread hope that a new leader of the congress, Juan Guaido, could unify the opposition and dislodge Maduro, who this month began a second term under a barrage of criticism that his election was illegitimate.
    Guaido has said he would be willing to replace Maduro as interim president, with the support of the military, to call free elections.    The opposition-controlled congress, considered by many abroad as Venezuela’s last remaining bastion of democracy, has declared Maduro a “usurper” and the United States has thrown its backing behind Guaido.
    The march, expected to draw hundreds of thousands, could solidify popular support behind Guaido and some backers are asking him to proclaim himself the legitimate president.    Venezuela’s opposition has been largely leaderless since Guaido’s mentor, Leopoldo Lopez, was arrested in 2014 during street protests.
    Guaido, 35, has called for the military to disavow Maduro and has promised a future amnesty for those that help bring about a return to democracy.
    Addressing members of the military on Monday, Guaido said: “We’re not asking you to launch a coup d’etat, we’re not asking you to shoot.    We’re asking you not to shoot at us.”
    Guaido, in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, said if he became president he intended to provide legal protection to soldiers and officials who defected, though he recognized “there would have to be justice for those that have done bad things.”
    “The unease is natural.    We’ve spent 20 years suffering attacks.    They have killed political leaders, they have jailed others, I was kidnapped for a few hours, they’ve killed my friends,” he said.
    “I don’t aim to cure the wounds of 20 years, and I don’t aim to hide them.    I aim to recognize those that are there.”
    The ruling Socialist Party is holding a rival march on Wednesday and officials have threatened Guaido with jail.    The pro-government Supreme Court, which annulled the powers of the congress in 2017, ruled on Tuesday to not recognize Guaido as its head and asked the state prosecutor’s office to determine whether he had committed a crime.
    Maduro, who was inaugurated on Jan. 10 following a 2018 election widely viewed as a sham, has presided over Venezuela’s spiral into its worst ever economic crisis, with inflation forecast to reach 10 million percent this year.
    Maduro’s administration has jailed dozens of opposition activists and leaders for seeking to overthrow him through street demonstrations in 2014 and 2017.    The 2017 protests left 125 people dead in clashes with police.
    U.S. Vice President Mike Pence issued a message of support to Venezuelans opposing the government on Tuesday, branding Maduro a “dictator with no legitimate claim to power.”
    In response, Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez told a news conference: “Yankee go home.”    She denounced “the perverse plans of Venezuela’s extreme right to endanger stability and peace.”
(Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Brian Ellsworth and Rosalba O’Brien)

1/23/2019 Venezuela’s Maduro orders revision of diplomatic relations with U.S.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and his wife Cilia Flores, attend a meeting with
supporters in Caracas, Venezuela January 22, 2019. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS
    CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday he had ordered a “revision” of diplomatic relations with the United States and would announce new measures in the next few hours.
    Maduro was responding to comments made earlier on Tuesday by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who gave his support to Venezuela’s opposition and called Maduro a “dictator with no legitimate claim to power.”
(Reporting by Corina Pons; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Sandra Maler)

1/23/2019 President Trump accepts Pelosi’s initial invitation to give State of the Union on House floor by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, formally accepting her initial request to give the State of the Union on the House floor.
    In the letter, released Wednesday, the president said he had accepted Pelosi’s invitation sent to him January 3, 2019 to give his State of the Union address.
    He then acknowledged her January 16, 2019 letter, where Pelosi requested the president not give his speech due to security concerns.    However, he said — even before her letter — he was assured there were no security issues.
    Therefore, he will be honoring her invitation and giving his speech on the House floor.
    The president ended his letter by saying it would be sad for the country if the State of the Union was not delivered on time, on schedule, and on location.
A portion of a letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to President Donald Trump, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019 in Washington.
Trump made it clear Wednesday that he intends to deliver his State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress,
telling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter that there are no security concerns stemming from
the government shutdown and “therefore I will be honoring your invitation.” (AP Photo/Wayne Partlow)
    In the meantime, Speaker Pelosi appears to be pushing Democrat lawmakers to continue efforts to reopen the government without addressing border security.    According to press on Capitol Hill, Pelosi urged the Democrat Caucus to stay united and stick with their plan to resist the Trump administration during a private meeting Wednesday.
    Additionally, Pelosi advised members not to bring family to the Capitol next week in what is being reported as a sign the State of the Union address may not happen.

1/23/2019 White House Press Secretary calls out Democrats for ‘doing nothing’ to reopen government by OAN Newsroom
    White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is calling out Democrats for not doing anything to help those affected by the partial government shutdown.
    During an interview Wednesday, Sanders said the president is the only one doing something to help the people Democrats claim they care about.    She also pointed out the president is focused on making sure the situation at the border is addressed and lawmakers don’t continue “kicking” the problem down the road.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders listens to a question while speaking
with reporters outside the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    Secretary Sanders also stressed nobody wants to see federal workers in line at food banks, and urged Democrats to negotiate with the president to hammer out a deal.
    “The president put forward a proposal on Saturday that addresses that, that reopens the government, that gives Democrats things that they have said that they’ve wanted, gives Democrats things they claim to care about yet they’re absolutely doing nothing to fix the problem,” she explained.    “They’re doing nothing to reopen the government, and they’re doing nothing to address the national security and humanitarian crisis at our border.”     Sanders also pushed back on Nancy Pelosi’s request for the president to postpone his State of the Union address, saying the Department of Homeland Security and Secret Service have both denied security concerns.

1/23/2019 President Trump touts GOP unity amid shutdown by OAN Newsroom
    According to President Trump, the GOP is united in the face of Democrat obstruction as the country continues to reel from the government shutdown.
    On Twitter Wednesday, the president said there’s “great unity in the Republican Party.”    He added, he wants to “once and for all, put an end to stoppable crime and drugs.”
    He then went on to say border security and the border wall are undoubtedly needed.
    Trump tweet: “Great unity in the Republican Party. Want to, once and for all, put an end to stoppable crime and drugs! Border Security and Wall. No doubt!
    This message comes as the Senate is set to bring two bills for procedural votes Thursday.    One is based on the president’s “common-sense compromise deal,” which includes money for the wall.    The other is the Democrats’ continued resolution, which would fund border security yet wouldn’t include funds for a border barrier.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leaves the chamber after speaking about his plan to move a 1,300-page spending measure,
which includes $5.7 billion to fund President Donald Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the sticking point in the standoff
between Trump and Democrats that has led to a partial government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

1/23/2019 Rep. Rashida Tlaib under fire for her ties to anti-Semite prior to West Bank trip by OAN Newsroom
    Efforts to prevent Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib from leading a trip to the West Bank are underway amid claims it could hurt the U.S.’s relationship with Israel.
    Republican Congressman Brian Babin sent a letter last week to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying the congressional West Bank trip funded by taxpayer dollars should not be led by a politician with ties to anti-Israeli extremists.
    Representative Tlaib, who is the first Muslim to become a U.S. House Representative, recently received backlash for posing for a picture with Abbas Hamideh.    Hamideh is a supporter of the terror group Hezbollah.    In the past, Hamideh has compared Zionism to Nazism, and has claimed living in Israel is like living under the authority of the Islamic State.
    “Asking the Palestinian people to live under a Jewish state, is like asking the Muslim people, or all citizens of Syria, to live in ISIS,” he stated.
In this Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019 photo, then Rep.-elect Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, is shown on the
house floor before being sworn into the 116th Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
    Tlaib has also publicly supported the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which is an anti-Israel boycotting group that calls for the U.S. to cut aid and any kind of support to the Jewish state.    The group also supports a one-state solution, which would lead to Israel being erased from the map.
    The West Bank visit is set to be a counterattack on this year’s AIPAC, the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which advocates for policies and ideas supporting the state of Israel.
    In the meantime, there’s no word yet on if Speaker Pelosi has responded to the letter.
    If Congress allows her to continue on with her trip, Tlaib said she plans to take her colleagues to the northern West Bank area to visit her grandmother and show them a different perspective of this Middle Eastern conflict.
[Anti-semitism must be great in the state of Michigan, I think we should boycott that state, and I bet Tlaib is saying some harsh expletives by now.].

1/23/2019 Taxi drivers in Spain wear yellow vests, protest in the streets by OAN Newsroom
    The rise in ride-hailing apps is sparking protests across Spain.    Hundreds of taxi drivers are on day three of a strike in Madrid, and are wearing the same yellow vests used by protesters in neighboring France.
    The taxi drivers want regional authorities to offer a deal similar to the one struck in Barcelona, which calls for companies like Uber to face the same regulations as taxis.
Taxi drivers block the access to a trade exhibition center, during a protest in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019.
Striking Spanish taxi drivers demanding more regulations for app-based ride-hailing services are blocking access to a trade exhibition
center in Madrid where a major tourism fair begins Wednesday. Riot police have been deployed as the drivers, many wearing the
yellow traffic safety vests used by protesters in neighboring France, burn tires and block traffic on a highway circling Spain’s capital. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
    Demonstrators believe ride-hailing companies have an unfair advantage over the market, because they can offer their services for less.
    “We want to be heard and we demand they implement the law.    The law should be applied, they cannot do the same job as us.    It should not be a case of taking us out of work, so they have work”. — Gregorio Rodriguez, taxi driver.
    Over 20,000 taxis are affected by the strikes in Madrid and Barcelona, which is causing major transportation delays.    According to the Spanish Taxi Federation, there will be more protests to come if the taxi driver’s demands are not met.

1/23/2019 White House renominates 51 federal judges for new Congress to review by OAN Newsroom
Neomi Rao (C), the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, reacts after
U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he is nominating her to replace Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the
U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals during a Diwali ceremony at the White House in Washington, U.S. November 13, 2018. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
    The White House is hoping to recreate last year’s record breaking success in confirming federal judges to the bench.
    The names of 51 nominees were put forward to the Senate again on Tuesday after their cases were allowed to lapse by the last Congress.
    One of the president’s picks includes Neomi Rao, who has spearheaded efforts by the administration to roll-back burdensome regulations.     She has been tapped to fill the seat vacated by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
    These nominations will likely be moved along by Chairman Lindsey Graham of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who said its his priority to confirm conservative judges.

1/23/2019 Germany’s Merkel calls on EU to band together against U.S. policies by OAN Newsroom
    While taking on the U.S. over its economic policies, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country stands behind mulitlateralism [multilateralism refers to an alliance of multiple countries pursuing a common goal].
    The German leader said the EU can create momentum to move things forward against — what she says are — nationalist forces.
    She made the comments while speaking during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland Wednesday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the annual meeting of the
World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
    Merkel called on the EU to come together in an effort to curb some of the dominance of the U.S.
    “Europe is on a journey with no guarantee of success, because we are up against economic powers, like the U.S that are very dominant,” she stated.    “On the other side we also have China with 1.3 billion inhabitants and likely to soon have the largest GDP in the world, and this is something that Europe should definitely go up against together and that is why we are looking for allies that share our viewpoint, because otherwise it will be very difficult.”
    The U.S. is currently in trade talks with the European Union and has imposed tariffs on imports from Europe.
[This is the first response from the European Union and their Socialist Union coming out of the closet and confronting that the United States as a threat of dominance for wanting to Make America Great Again, so they will have to get on the bandwagon of the Progressive Socialist Liberal Leftist Democrats that we are fighting against now.].

1/23/2019 U.S. recognizes opposition leader as Venezuela president, weighs oil sanctions by Matt Spetalnick and Roberta Rampton
Juan Guaido, President of the Venezuela's National Assembly, attends a session
in Caracas, Venezuela January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration ratcheted up pressure on Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday, announcing U.S. recognition of the country’s opposition leader as interim president and signaling potential new sanctions against its vital oil sector.
    With street protests against Maduro underway across Venezuela, Trump said the United States recognized Juan Guaido, head of the opposition-controlled Congress, as the country’s leader and called socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s government “illegitimate.”.
    “I will continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy,” Trump said in a statement, encouraging other governments in the Western Hemisphere to also recognize Guaido.
    The administration had been waiting to issue its announcement after Guaido had been sworn in as the country’s temporary president on Wednesday, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a statement, called on Maduro to step aside and urged the country’s military to support efforts to restore democracy.
    Venezuelan opposition sympathizers had been urging Guaido to assume the presidency since Maduro was inaugurated to a second term on Jan. 10 following a widely boycotted election last year that the United States and many other foreign governments described as fraudulent.
    The 35-year-old Guaido has energized the opposition with a campaign to declare Maduro a usurper and has promised a transition to a new government in a nation suffering a hyperinflationary economic collapse.
    Guaido, a newcomer on the national scene who was elected to head Congress on Jan. 5, had said earlier he was willing to replace Maduro if he had the support of the military, with the aim of then calling for free elections.
    U.S. officials in recent days had stated openly that Maduro no longer had a legitimate claim on power.
    The sources acknowledged that formal recognition of Guaido would be complicated by questions of how to deal with Venezuela’s U.S.-based diplomats and who would now control its bank accounts and other U.S. assets.
    It was also unknown whether Guaido and the opposition-controlled Congress would now try to exert control over Citgo, the U.S. refining arm of Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA.
    Such a move could also backfire if Maduro used Guaido’s swearing-in and U.S. recognition of him as a pretext to take action such as detaining him.
    Canada also plans to recognize Guaido, a Canadian government official said on Wednesday.
    Adding to pressure on Maduro, multiple sources said the Trump administration could impose new U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s vital oil sector as soon as this week if the political situation there deteriorates further.
    U.S. officials are considering a range of potential measures, including restricting U.S. imports of Venezuelan oil or even a full ban, to punish Maduro’s government, but no final decisions have been made as Washington closely watches the street protests unfolding in the country, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
    Two other sources briefed on the matter said the U.S. administration had privately informed U.S. energy companies of its deliberations.
    The administration’s decision on whether to go ahead could depend on how harshly Maduro cracks down on protesters and how he responds to Guaido’s swearing-in, several of the sources said.
    Since late last year, the White House has also been considering whether to put Venezuela’s on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, U.S. officials have said.
    The White House has been growing frustrated with existing sanctions on Venezuela which have so far spared oil exports, feeling they have not had the desired effect.
    Cutting off Venezuela’s exports would choke off revenue to the Western Hemisphere’s only OPEC member-nation.
    The United States has held off on broad, oil-related measures for now, mindful of the potential not only for deepening the suffering of the Venezuelan people but also the risk of causing problems for U.S. companies and consumers.
    U.S. refiners such as Valero, Chevron and PBF Energy have had discussions about the possibility of such sanctions with the Trump administration in recent weeks, and companies have already started bidding up prices for alternative types of crude to replace the Venezuelan grades.
    The sources said it was unclear whether a crude ban, if initiated, would be phased in or immediate, or whether it would also seek to cut off Venezuela’s ability to sell oil to other international buyers.
    Venezuelan crude exports to the United States last year fell 15 percent to the lowest annual average in nearly three decades, according to Refinitiv Eikon data, as fast-declining oil output and financial sanctions continued to hit sales.
    Still, some U.S. refineries have equipment specifically designed for heavy grades of crude like those from Venezuela.    They imported about 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick, Roberta Rampton and Jarrett Renshaw; additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Tom Brown and James Dalgleish)

1/23/2019 France’s ‘yellow vest’ protesters to field candidates in EU vote
FILE PHOTO: Protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a drivers' protest against higher fuel prices,
face off with police during clashes in central Brussels, Belgium, November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman
    PARIS (Reuters) – France’s anti-government “yellow vest” protesters are to put forward a list of candidates to run in upcoming European Parliament elections, it said on Wednesday.
    The protests, named after high-visibility vests French drivers are required to keep in their cars, started out in mid November against fuel tax hikes that have since been scrapped.
    They quickly spiraled into a broader movement against the political elite and inequality, triggering some of the capital’s worst street violence in decades.
    “The citizen movement … has shown the need to transform the anger into a political project capable of giving answers to the French people who have supported it,” the loosely grouped movement said in a statement.
    The movement, which so far has been loosely organized without a leadership structure, could take 13 percent of the vote in May, according to a Elabe poll on Wednesday for BFM TV.
    That would put it behind President Emmanuel Macron’s party Republique en Marche (Republic On the Move) party with 22.5 percent and the far right Rassemblement National (National Rally) — formerly the National Front — with 17.5 percent.
    Macron’s party has recently seen a rebound in its poll scores in a sign of public approval for a harder stance he has taken against the protesters following a string of riots that left many store windows smashed and cars burnt.
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas and Caroline Paillez; Editing by David Gregorio)

1/24/2019 Will Trump speak in Senate? McConnell urged to host State of Union address by Phillip M. Bailey, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could provide President Donald Trump with a much-needed political assist by hosting the State of the Union address, which is the latest casualty of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi officially postponed the nationally televised speech, which would have been held in the Democrat-controlled House chamber, in a letter to the president.
    McConnell was being urged to host the address in the smaller Senate chamber by other Republicans days before Pelosi’s unprecedented decision.
    Fellow Kentuckian Sen. Rand Paul was one of the first people to make that suggestion.
    “Senator McConnell is in charge of the Senate,” Paul tweeted last week.    “If Mrs. Pelosi refuses to allow the president to deliver the State of the Union in the House, I propose we move it to the Senate and make it happen!
    McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to the Courier Journal’s request for comment Wednesday.    A spokesman described the Senate hosting the speech last week as “hypothetical.”
    There is no constitutional requirement that the president give an in-person State of the Union address to Congress.    For most of the 19th century, until Woodrow Wilson broke the tradition, most presidents sent their annual updates to lawmakers in writing.
    But in the modern era of television, presidents have used formal addresses in the House chamber to make bold declarations about their agenda before a national audience.
    The first problem for McConnell would be the logistics given his chamber is much smaller than the House.    It is also unclear if the Senate’s resolution to host the speech would require a simple majority or a filibuster proof 60-vote threshold.
    While planning to speak in the House chamber — the administration has requested a formal walk-through before the ceremony — Trump and his aides have been exploring alternative venues, including cities outside the capital.
    Republican officials in Michigan and North Carolina, for instance, have invited Trump to give his speech in their states.    The White House itself was another option.
    “We always like to have a Plan B, but the president should be able to address the American people,” White House press secret Sarah Sanders said.    “Whether he does that from the halls of Congress or whether he does that in another location.”
    More than two-dozen congressional Republicans wrote McConnell a letter last week asking him to consider moving the speech across the Capitol.
    U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky, endorsed the idea and suggested there could be enough seats if the lawmakers sit in the gallery.    He used a picture of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s 1992 speech before Congress to criticize his colleagues.    “Democrats once invited the President of Russia to address Congress but now won’t invite the President of the United States to the same podium,” Massie said.    “SAD!
    U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky, said Wednesday he agrees with Pelosi’s decision, and that the address shouldn’t happen amid the shutdown, “no matter who is president.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could host President Donald Trump. COURIER JOURNAL FILE

1/24/2019 McConnell: Media ‘tried, convicted and sentenced’ students by Billy Kobin, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    The Covington Catholic students at the center of a viral firestorm after their encounter with a Native American activist have been “tried, convicted and sentenced by the media” and “partisan observers,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
    Speaking Wednesday on the Senate floor, McConnell said “far-left activists and members of the national and state media” used portions of a video from the Friday encounter outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to justify attacks on students from the allmale Catholic school in Park Hills.
    “Because of what some highly partisan observers thought they saw in a few seconds of a confusing video,” McConnell said, “these kids, their families and their school were met with a deluge, a literal deluge, of partisan vitriol.”
    In the hours after video clips showed Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann wearing a red “Make America Great Again” and standing face to face with Nathan Phillips following rallies in Washington, the incident went viral and drew a strong backlash against the teen and the Northern Kentucky school.    Students were seen clapping and chanting in the background.
    The incident occurred after 5 p.m. Friday, and the initial video was posted early Saturday.
    By Saturday afternoon, the school and the Diocese of Covington condemned their behavior, with the diocese vowing to open an investigation and take appropriate action, which could include expulsion.
    Those outraged thought the teen was being disrespectful of Phillips, a veteran and Native American tribe elder.
    But by Sunday evening, longer video clips were released that showed how the confrontation started, and some questioned whether the students actually provoked Phillips.
    Sandmann and his family also retained Louisville public relations firm RunSwitch PR to help “offer professional counsel with what has become a national media story,” according to the firm.
    The students had traveled to Washington to participate in Friday’s March for Life, while Phillips participated in the Indigenous Peoples March the same day.
    “In a matter of hours, these students were tried, convicted and sentenced by the media where accuracy is irrelevant and the presumption of innocence does not exist,” McConnell said.    “To their credit, some apologized for their commentary upon learning more.    But by that point, too much damage had already been done.”
    Phillips has said the incident began as the Covington students interacted with a group of Black Hebrew Israelites, who were “saying some harsh things” about the students.
    “So I put myself in between that, between a rock and a hard place,” Phillips said.
    “There was that moment when I realized I’ve put myself between beast and prey,” Phillips told the Detroit Free Press.    “These young men were beastly and these old black individuals was their prey, and I stood in between them and so they needed their pounds of flesh and they were looking at me for that.”
    Sandmann, 17, said in an interview Wednesday on the “Today” show that he “was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips.”
    “I respect him.    I’d like to talk to him,” Sandmann told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie.    “I mean – in hindsight I wish we could have walked away and avoided the whole thing.”
    Sandmann said a chaperone gave students permission to start the chant seen in longer videos.    As for why they started chanting, Sandmann said that being positive seemed better than letting the Black Hebrew Israelites “slander us.”    The chants were school-related, Sandmann said.
    “I certainly hope they didn’t feel threatened by us.    I would just say the fact remains they initiated their comments with us,” Sandmann said on Guthrie’s show.    “I mean they provoked us into a peaceful response of school spirit.”
    When Guthrie asked Sandmann about what some have characterized as a smirk on his face as he stood in front of Phillips, Sandmann said he “wasn’t smirking.”    “People judged me based off one expression, which I wasn’t smirking,” Sandmann said.    “And they’ve gone from there to titling me and labeling me as a racist person.”
    As for the “Make America Great Again” hat, Sandmann said he bought his hat that day from a street vendor.
    Guthrie, who was criticized by Twitter users for being too soft on Sandmann, said Phillips will make an appearance on the “Today” show on Thursday.
    Covington Catholic was closed Tuesday after threats of violence were made against students and the school, officials said.
    McConnell said that “it’s unclear when any sense of normalcy might return.”
    “This time, it’s families in my home state who are paying the price for exercising their freedoms,” McConnell said.    “Sadly, this kind of fact-free rush to judgment is becoming an all-too-common occurrence.”
    President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Monday and Tuesday to defend the Covington Catholic students, and Trump could meet with them at the White House after the ongoing government shutdown ends.
    McConnell ended his speech on the Senate floor with what he hopes people learn from the weekend.
    “When the rush for headlines takes precedence over the facts, mistakes are made and our rights as Americans are put at risk,” McConnell said.    “This trend is particularly troubling when young people are involved.”
    Cincinnati Enquirer reporters Sarah Brookbank, Max Londberg and Cameron Knight contributed to this story.

1/24/2019 After upstaging Maduro, Venezuela’s Guaido seeks to keep up pressure by Brian Ellsworth
Juan Guaido, President of Venezuela's National Assembly, holds a copy of Venezuelan constitution
during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government and to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the end of
the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez in Caracas, Venezuela January 23, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
    CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s opposition on Thursday will seek to maintain pressure on isolated President Nicolas Maduro after congress chief Juan Guaido swore himself in as the rightful head of state with the support of nations around the region.
    Guaido won diplomatic backing from the United States and governments across Latin America on Wednesday after declaring himself interim president before an ebullient crowd of supporters, who thronged the streets of Caracas in hopes of change.
    The 35-year-old industrial engineer, catapulted almost overnight to national leader, has promised free and fair elections, a transition government to end the country’s hyperinflationary economic debacle, and an amnesty for military officers if they help push Maduro from power.
    He now faces the daunting task of pushing forward the transition plan without control over crucial state institutions and an armed forces that has disavowed him.
    “While it’s true that Guaido has been recognized internationally, the real power of the state is still in the hands of Nicolas Maduro,” said Ronal Rodriguez, a political science professor who focuses on Venezuela at Rosario University in Bogota.
    Foreign backing could allow Guaido to raise funds abroad to obtain food and medicine for a population struggling under economic crisis, Rodriguez said, but he would face challenges in getting goods through ports controlled by Maduro allies.
    Guaido on Wednesday promised that humanitarian aid would be distributed with the oversight of the congress, adding that the opposition was planning a march for the first week of February to demand access to foreign assistance.
    He did not announce activities for the coming days.
    A spokesman did not respond to a message seeking details.
    Many opposition sympathizers worry he could be arrested like other political activists, including his mentor Leopoldo Lopez, who remains under house arrest for his involvement in 2014 street protests.
    With the country’s economy falling apart and annual inflation approaching 2 million percent, Maduro has relied extensively on the military to maintain power.
    Military commanders, including Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, have so far promised to stick with Maduro and disavow Guaido.
    “The soldiers of the fatherland do not accept a president imposed under the shadow of dark interests or self-proclaimed at the margin of the law,” Padrino wrote on Twitter.
(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)
[I am glad to see that the people of Venzuela want their country back instead of making caravans to the U.S.].

1/24/2019 Trump threatens to cut aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador over caravans
The U.S. side of the U.S. and Mexico border fence is seen in Tijuana, Mexico, January 23, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump issued a new threat to cut off aid to three Central American countries on Wednesday in response to what he said was a new wave of immigrants headed toward the United States from those countries.
    Trump, struggling to get a request through the U.S. Congress for money to build a southern border wall, expressed frustration about governments in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador not helping the United States on the migrant problem.
    “Honduras is doing nothing for us. Guatemala is doing nothing for us.    El Salvador is doing nothing for us.    And we pay them hundreds of millions of dollars a year, but we’re going to be stopping pretty soon.    In fact, we’re looking at it right now,” he said.
    The Trump administration’s proposed budget request for fiscal year 2019 included $45.7 million for El Salvador, $69.4 million for Guatemala and $65.8 million for Honduras, according to the Congressional Research Service.    The amounts all represented a double-digit reduction from the previous year’s funding.
    Trump said he believed the three countries could “very easily” stop immigrant caravans from forming.
    “I actually think they encourage the caravans because they want to get rid of the people from the country, and certain people,” Trump told reporters during a meeting on immigration with members of his administration and high-profile> (Reporting by Steve Holland and Makini Brice in Washington; Editing by James Dalgleish)

1/24/2019 U.S. prosecutors press witnesses to testify against Assange: WikiLeaks by Mark Hosenball
FILE PHOTO: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the
Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. federal prosecutors have stepped up efforts to pressure witnesses to testify against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, WikiLeaks said on Wednesday, in connection with what it said were secret criminal charges filed by the Trump administration.
    WikiLeaks did not mention any names in its public statement.    But Assange’s lawyers identified some of those contacted in a document asking the human rights arm of the Organization of American States to demand that the charges be unsealed.
    Reuters obtained excerpts of the document filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and spoke to one of the persons named.
    President Barack Obama’s administration extensively investigated Assange and WikiLeaks after it published hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables and secret documents detailing U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    The administration ultimately decided not to prosecute, however, on the grounds the group’s work was too similar to journalistic activities protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
    Late last year, a court filing by prosecutors in an unrelated case referred to a sealed American indictment of Assange.    Prosecutors said the filing was made in error and declined to confirm whether any charges had been filed.
    Donald Trump praised WikiLeaks during his 2016 presidential campaign for publishing material about Hillary Clinton.    Not long after Trump took office, however, then-CIA director Mike Pompeo, now Secretary of State, publicly called it a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.”
    Assange, an Australian national, has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him as part of a sexual assault investigation that was eventually dropped.
    A spokesman for the federal prosecutors’ office in Alexandria, Virginia, which has taken the lead for several years in investigations into WikiLeaks, did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
    According to the document filed to the human rights commission, one of the people contacted by Alexandria prosecutors was Jacob Appelbaum, a Berlin-based U.S. computer expert and hacker.
    Appelbaum told Reuters that while prosecutors offered him broad immunity from prosecution, he had no interest in cooperating or testifying before a grand jury.
    Another potential witness targeted by U.S. prosecutors was David House, a Massachusetts computer programmer, the document said. House was involved in setting up a group to support Chelsea Manning, a U.S. soldier who passed on military communications to WikiLeaks and was jailed by U.S. authorities.
    House could not be reached.    The American Civil Liberties Union which represented him in connection with the Manning case did not respond to requests for comment.
    The Justice Department also contacted American activist and computer scientist, Jason Katz.    Katz, who has lived in Iceland since 2011, did not respond to a request for comment sent to that country’s Pirate Party, of which he was a founding member.
(Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Sonya Hepinstall)
[Jacob Appelbaum, an American independent journalist, computer security researcher, artist, and hacker, employed by the University of Washington, and was a core member of the Tor project, a free software network designed to provide online anonymity.    Appelbaum has repeatedly been targeted by U.S. law enforcement agencies, who obtained a court order for his Twitter account data, detained him at the U.S. border after trips abroad, and seized his laptop and several mobile phones.
    Appelbaum believes he has been under government surveillance since 2009, to the detriment of himself, his friends, and his close relations.    In interviews he has stated that living in Germany has given him a sense of relief from U.S. surveillance.    Appelbaum has described various aggressive surveillance events, and implies they are related to his work with Wikileaks, to his privacy activism, and to relationships with other privacy activists, notably reporters linked to Edward Snowden.    In December 2013, Appelbaum said he suspected the U.S. government of breaking into his Berlin apartment.    Appelbaum represented Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in a keynote address at the 2010 HOPE conference.    FBI agents were planning to detain him after his talk, but organizers slipped him out through an alternative exit in disguise.    Appelbaum was among several people to gain access to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's top secret documents released in 2013.    He has contributed extensively as a journalist to the publication of those documents.].

1/24/2019 Mexico says will not accept return of at-risk U.S. asylum seekers by Anthony Esposito
Migrant families seeking asylum from Central America walk down a dirt road after illegally crossing
the Rio Grande river into the U.S. from Mexico in Penitas, Texas, U.S., January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Two U.S.-Mexico meetings have been held to work out details of a new plan to return across the shared border migrants seeking U.S. asylum, but Mexico will not accept anybody facing a credible threat back home, a Mexico Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
    In a major policy change, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration said on Dec. 20 it would send non-Mexican migrants who cross the U.S. southern border back to wait in Mexico while their U.S. asylum requests are processed.
    At the time, Mexico said it would accept some Central American asylum seekers for humanitarian reasons, in what many saw as an early concession to Trump by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office on Dec. 1.
    Trump is demanding $5.7 billion in funding for a wall along the Mexican border, triggering a 33-day U.S. government shutdown which has left 800,000 federal workers without pay.
    In an interview on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Roberto Velasco said Mexico cannot accept the return of migrants who are “in danger.”
    “If they return people that are vulnerable, that have a founded fear of persecution in Mexico, or people that require some special attention, we don’t have resources to address that,” he said.
    Velasco did not say how Mexico and the United States would determine which asylum seekers were at risk in Mexico.    Last year about 93,000 people sought asylum at the southern border, up 67 percent from 2017, according to U.S. government data.
    Serious doubts exist over whether Mexico can keep Central American asylum seekers who are fleeing poverty and crime safe, especially in border towns that are often more violent than the cities they left.    Authorities are investigating the recent deaths of two Honduran teenagers kidnapped and killed in the border city of Tijuana.
    It is unclear how Mexico plans to house what could be thousands of asylum seekers for the months, or years, it takes U.S. immigration cases to be heard.    A backlog of more than 800,000 cases is pending in immigration courts.
    Velasco said Mexico’s interior and foreign ministries had held two meetings since the announcement in which the two sides discussed details such as at what time and in what ports of entry asylum seekers would be returned to Mexico.
    “We are going to accept certain people, with a notification to appear before a court in the United States.    Now we are explaining who those certain people are. We are trying to understand how they would return them.    Under what conditions.”
    In a move that may make it easier for Mexico to accept Central Americans returned by the United States, Mexico has started handing out “humanitarian” visas to Central American migrants.    Holders of the one-year visas can apply for a work permit.
    Mexico’s Immigration Office said it has received more than 10,000 requests for humanitarian visas, mostly from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
    “We are registering their entry into Mexico and giving them a legal status in Mexico,” said Velasco.
    No date has been set for the United States to start returning migrants to Mexico, Velasco said.
(Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Richard Chang)

1/24/2019 The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 81.35 points, or 0.33 percent, to 24,494.27, the S&P 500 lost 3.91 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,634.79 and the Nasdaq Composite added 27.79 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,053.56.

1/24/2019 President Trump delays State of the Union by OAN Newsroom
    The State of the Union saga continues with the annual address now being postponed indefinitely.    In a surprising turn of events, President Trump took Twitter by storm late Wednesday, saying he’ll push the State of the Union back until after the shutdown is over.
    This all came after a back and forth between the president and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with both leaders exchanging letters.    Pelosi eventually uninvited the president from holding the address in the House chamber until the government is reopened.
    “The State of the Union speech has been canceled by Nancy Pelosi, because she doesn’t want to hear the truth,” said President Trump.    “She doesn’t want the American public to hear what is going on and she is afraid of the truth.”
    Pelosi quickly responded to the president’s announcement, saying she hopes he will support the House’s bill to reopen the government.    The Senate will vote on that bill Thursday, however, it’s not likely the senate will support this.    The bill would reopen the government through February 8, 2019, but does not provide funding for a border barrier.
    With Congress likely to hit a road block, the shutdown returns to a stalemate.
President Donald Trump, gestures while speaking during a healthcare roundtable in the Roosevelt Room of the White House,
Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Washington. Jamesia Shutt, of Aurora, Colo., is at right. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney called on federal agencies to provide him with a list of programs that will be hurt the most if the shutdown were to continue to through March and April.    This is the first signal that officials are preparing for a lengthy shutdown.
    However, the White House is hoping to avoid this at all costs, knowing hundreds of thousands of workers cannot continue to go without another paycheck.
    “I want this to end, and end now — these are not talking points, these are the heartbreaking realities that hurt precious human beings every single day,” said the president.
    When the shutdown finally does come to an end, President Trump said he will hold the State of the Union in the House chamber, because “no venue can compete with its history, tradition and importance.”
    Trump tweet: “As the Shutdown was going on, Nancy Pelosi asked me to give the State of the Union Address. I agreed. She then changed her mind because of the Shutdown, suggesting a later date. This is her prerogative - I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over. I am not looking for an....
    Trump tweet: “....alternative venue for the SOTU Address because there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber. I look forward to giving a “great” State of the Union Address in the near future!

1/24/2019 Va. State GOP lawmakers slam new district map, appeal to SCOTUS by OAN Newsroom
House Speaker, Del. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, presides over the House during the session at the Capitol in Richmond, Va.,
Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. A panel of federal judges has chosen a redistricting map for Virginia’s House of Delegates that could
shift some districts toward Democrats and help the party regain control in this year’s election. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
    Republicans in Virginia are taking their concerns to the Supreme Court after the state’s district map was redrawn.
    GOP state House Speaker Kirk Cox slammed the new map on Wednesday, saying it was created “to give Democrats the advantage at every turn.”
    He said that according to these district lines, six districts that went for Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential election now would have elected Barack Obama.
    A federal judge ordered the map to be redrawn last year after he ruled the lines drawn in 2011 were gerrymandered.
    The state election will move forward this year with the new map, while Republicans wait for the Supreme Court to hear their appeal.

1/24/2019 President Trump slams Michael Cohen for using same lawyer as Hillary Clinton by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump is firing off on his former attorney Michael Cohen for backing out of his upcoming hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.
    Trump tweet: “So interesting that bad lawyer Michael Cohen, who sadly will not be testifying before Congress, is using the lawyer of Crooked Hillary Clinton to represent him - Gee, how did that happen? Remember July 4th weekend when Crooked went before FBI & wasn’t sworn in, no tape, nothing?
    Michael Cohen is blaming President Trump for the reason why he has decided to postpone his testimony on Capitol Hill.    In a statement Wednesday, Cohen accused the president and Rudy Giuliani of making threats against him and his family as recent as this past weekend before announcing he will not be attending his upcoming hearing before House lawmakers on February 7, 2018.
    Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis said his client is putting his family and their safety first, adding, his appearance will be postponed to a later date.
    President Trump took aim at Cohen’s decision to cancel and his choice of legal representation on Thursday.    Davis, who formerly served as special counsel to President Bill Clinton, also represented Hillary Clinton when she became subject of an FBI probe involving her private email server.    President Trump pointed out Davis helped Clinton avoid testifying under oath before FBI agents when she was questioned over her possible mishandling of classified information back in 2016.
    However, the president was not the only one to criticize Cohen for backing out of his upcoming hearing before Congress.    Porn star Stormy Daniels called Cohen out in a vulgar tweet on Wednesday, urging him to testify.
    Stormy Daniels tweet on Cohen’s decision to postpone testimony.
    While lawmakers were not expected to press Cohen on any matters related to the Russia investigation, the president’s former attorney was expected to answer questions about the run-up to the 2016 election.
    This all comes on the heels of a fake Buzzfeed report that claimed President Trump ordered Michael Cohen to lie before Congress about abandoned plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.    The unverified report drove the media into a frenzy as political pundits began calling for the president’s impeachment, which prompted the special counsel to step in and release a statement denying the allegations.
President Trump (L), Michael Cohen (R). (AP/Photos)
    President Trump has repeatedly dubbed Cohen as a pathological liar and accused him of making wild accusations in an effort to get a lighter sentence.    On Wednesday, the president said any allegations claiming he threatened Cohen are completely false.
    “No, I would say he’s been threatened by the truth, he’s only been threatened by the truth and he doesn’t want to do that probably for me or other of his clients,” said President Trump.    “He has other clients also, I assume, and he doesn’t want to tell the truth for me or other of his clients.”
    Michael Cohen has been sentenced to three-years in prison after he pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including lying to Congress.

1/24/2019 Mexico receives more than 10K humanitarian visa applications from migrant caravan by OAN Newsroom
Migrants stand in line on the border bridge between Mexico and Guatemala, as they start
applying for Mexican humanitarian visas at the port of entry to Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas state, Mexico, across the border
from Tecun Uman, Guatemala, Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
    The number of Central American migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. is expected to grow as Mexico fast-tracks humanitarian visas.
    Mexico’s new government is offering one-year visas to migrants, which include the right to work in Mexico and travel the country freely.
    On Wednesday, Mexico’s National Migration Institute said the country has received more than 10,000 visa applications in the last week and that number grows every day.
    Honduran nationals make up about 80-percent of the migrants in the caravan, including more than 1,500 minors.
    More than 600 visas have been granted so far.

1/24/2019 U.S. has offered to hold arms control talks with Russia: official by Jonathan Landay
FILE PHOTO: National flags of Russia and the U.S. fly at Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow, Russia April 11, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has offered to hold arm control talks with Russia during a United Nations meeting in Beijing next week that almost certainly would include a feud over a Cold War-era treaty, a senior State Department official said on Thursday.
    Under Secretary of State Andrea Thompson reiterated that the Trump administration will “suspend our obligations” under the disputed pact if Russia fails to return to compliance by Feb. 2.    But the move is “reversible” and Washington has made no final decision on announcing a full U.S. withdrawal, she said.
    “I’m not particularly optimistic” that Russia will return to compliance, she told reporters at a breakfast.
    The dispute over the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty has added to the gravest U.S.-Russia tensions since the end of the Cold War in 1991.    Some experts fear that its demise could undermine other arms control agreements and speed an erosion of the global system designed to block the spread of nuclear arms.
    Washington charges that Russia has violated the INF Treaty by deploying the ground-launched Novator 9M729 nuclear-capable cruise missile.    The weapon exceeds the pact’s range limit of 500-5,000 km (310-3,106 miles) and targets European allies, Washington contends.
    To return to compliance with the treaty, Russia must destroy the missiles, three battalions of which have been deployed, Thompson said.
    Russia rejects the U.S. allegations, and says the missile, designated the SSC-8 by NATO, complies with the pact.    It accuses the United States of inventing a false pretext to leave an accord it wants to exit anyway to develop its own new missiles.
    Thompson said that talks she held last week in Geneva with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov made no headway toward resolving the dispute.
    But, she added, she has offered to discuss with Ryabkov arms control issues that almost certainly would include the feud on the sidelines of a U.N. Security Council meeting on nonproliferation next week in Beijing.
    “I’ve told the deputy foreign minister if and when it’s appropriate and they have tangible next steps, that I’m willing to talk,” Thompson said.    “But to come to the table and hear the same story line from the past five years isn’t a productive use of our time.”
    Thompson rejected the first unveiling in Moscow of the Novator for diplomats and journalists on Wednesday as proof that it complies with the INF Treaty.
    “A static display of a missile cannot tell you how far a missile flies,” she said.
    The United States has presented Russia “time after time after time” with data showing that the missile flew more than the treaty’s proscribed 500-km range during one of the tests conducted between 2008 and 2013, she said.
    It also has presented Moscow with a plan for the “verifiable” destruction of the missile systems.    Moscow has countered with its own unacceptable proposal for demonstrating the missile, she said.
    “They would have controlled the environment,” she said on the Russian plan.    “When you go and select the missile and you select the fuel and you control all of those parameters, characteristics, you are controlling the outcome of the test.”
(This story corrects paragraph 13 to show missile test exceeded 500 km, and paragraph 14 to show U.S. plan is for destruction of missiles, not test)
(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

1/24/2019 U.S. Commerce chief to federal workers: Get a loan by Susan Heavey
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross answers questions during an interview with Reuters in his office
at the U.S. Department of Commerce building in Washington, U.S., October 5, 2018. REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday urged furloughed federal workers facing a second missed paycheck to seek loans to pay their bills while adding that he couldn’t understand why they were having trouble getting by.
    In a CNBC interview, Ross, a billionaire investor, called it “disappointing” that some federal workers affected by the government shutdown were not showing up to work and said “there really is not a good excuse” for affected employees to lack money, adding that they should be able to borrow funds from financial institutions.
    Ross made the comments as the longest government shutdown in U.S. history entered its 34th day with no clear end in sight.
    About 800,000 workers have been furloughed across roughly one-quarter of the federal government.    Many have turned to unemployment assistance, food banks and other support, or other work to try to make ends meet.
    Asked about their struggles, Ross told CNBC: “I know they are, and I don’t really quite understand why.”
    “The banks and the credit unions should be making credit available to them,” he said, noting that the government would give federal employees back pay.    “There really is not a good excuse why there really should be a liquidity crisis.”
    “True, the people might have to pay a little bit of interest.    But the idea that it’s paycheck or zero is not a really valid idea,” Ross said.
    He also rejected comments that the shutdown would hurt the U.S. economy.    “While I feel sorry for the individuals that have hardship cases,” even if the 800,000 workers never got paid, it would amount to less than one percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, he said.
    Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi took Ross to task for the comments.
    “Is this the ‘Let them eat cake,’ kind of attitude, or ‘Call your father for money?’ or, ‘This is character building for you?'” Pelosi asked at a news conference, adding she did not understand why Ross would make the comment “as hundreds of thousands of men and women are about to miss a second paycheck tomorrow.”
    Ross is not the first Trump administration official to downplay federal workers’ plight. White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett likened the furlough to a vacation in an interview with PBS earlier this month, though on Tuesday he told Fox News that he knew workers felt “a lot of pain right now.”
    “Sadly, it looks like it’s possibly that federal employees are going to miss another paycheck,” Hassett told Fox, adding that one of his staffers had turned to driving for Uber.
    Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law and 2020 re-election campaign adviser, this week told online television outlet BOLD TV that federal workers faced “a little bit of pain” over their bills but urged sacrifice, saying “this is so much bigger than any one person.”
    U.S. President Donald Trump, a real estate developer and former reality television star, has said federal workers support the shutdown, which was triggered by his demand for $5.7 billion to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
    He responded to Pelosi’s criticism of Ross by tweeting that he stood firmly behind the need for a wall, saying “We will not Cave!
    Trump has signed a law to pay back affected federal workers when the government reopens, but it does not extend to private contractors or others whose livelihoods depend heavily on federal workers’ business.
    Federal workers will miss a second paycheck on Friday unless Congress and the White House find an imminent solution.
    As the standoff dragged into its second month, a rising number of airline security workers have not shown up at airports, raising security worries.    It has also raised concerns for low-income people who depend on critical government services such as food stamps, housing and other programs.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrea Ricci)

1/24/2019 Senate rejects proposals to reopen government amid calls from President Trump to fund border security by OAN Newsroom
    The longest government shutdown in U.S. history will continue after the Senate took up two separate bills, with both failing to garner enough votes to pass.
    The Republican-backed bill — President Trump’s compromise proposal — failed in a 50-to-47 vote.    The Democrat legislation, which would reopen the government until February 8, 2019, failed in a 52-to-44 vote.    Neither measure received the 60 votes needed to advance in the Senate.
    The recent votes have marked the first steps in the chamber this year to end the budget deadlock that triggered the shutdown.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., steps out of the chamber prior to a vote on ending the
partial government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    Meanwhile, President Trump is ramping up pressure on Democrats to fund border security and reopen the government.
    The president took to twitter Thursday, saying he will not back down from his intent to build the border wall.    He reiterated that a physical barrier is the only feasible way to tackle organized crime, human-smuggling, and drug trafficking.
    President Trump also criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for saying she doesn’t understand what the wall is good for.
    Trump tweet: “Without a Wall there cannot be safety and security at the Border or for the U.S.A. BUILD THE WALL AND CRIME WILL FALL!
[The new anthem will be U.S.A. BUILD THE WALL AND CRIME WILL FALL!.    And they need to send all the migrants back to their countries so they can help overthrow their corrupt governments.].

1/25/2019 DOW down 22 to 24,553

1/25/2019 Democratic shutdown proposal also fails by Phillip M. Bailey, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was unable to get President Donald Trump’s compromise plan to end the longest government shutdown through the Senate.
    The competing Democratic plan also failed to advance, but in a sign of GOP cracks over the standoff, six senators from McConnell’s caucus favored the Democrats’ bill to reopen the government until Feb. 8 without funding a wall along the U.S-Mexico border.
    McConnell said in his floor speech Thursday that the proposal backed by the Trump administration was the only option to relieve the roughly 800,000 federal employees — including about 6,500 Kentuckians — who are either furloughed or working without pay.
    “The president’s been at the negotiating table, ready to talk and fix this,” he said.    “Democrats have made the opposite political calculation.    And our nation is paying the price.”
    Neither of the the Senate bills managed to get the 60 votes needed to advance, however.    The McConnell bill failed by a 50-47 margin while the Democratic measure fell short with a 52-44 tally.
    McConnell said in his floor speech that senators who voted for the Democratic plan would be “saying that political fights with the president matter more than federal workers and their families, border security ... and government funding.”
    “Deep down, my friends across the aisle know this is not a reasonable reaction to a president of the other party,” he said.
    But Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Mitt Romney of Utah and Johnny Isakson of Georgia broke rank with McConnell, and supported the Democrats’ short-term funding bill.    The Republicans hold a 53-47 Senate majority.
    “Shutdowns are extremely unfair — I’ll vote yes and yes,” Collins said a few hours before the votes.
    McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to the Courier Journal’s request for comment.
    The votes marked the first movement in the chamber this year to break the budget impasse that triggered the shutdown, and may signal a possible path toward compromise amid signs the impasse is taking its toll on Trump politically.
    A poll released Wednesday by The Associated Press showed that six in 10 Americans blame the president for the shutdown.    Just 34 percent of Americans approve of his job performance — down from 42 percent a month earlier and near the lowest mark of his twoyear presidency.
    McConnell has been facing national pressure by Democratic lawmakers and liberal activists to hold a vote on ending the historic shutdown.
    Political observers noted the failure of either plan to move through the Senate could give McConnell and his Democratic counterpart, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, of New York, to continue discussions to forge a compromise.
    Others, such as Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake, suggested McConnell could use the Democratic plan getting more votes as a way to persuade Trump to bring the shutdown to an end.
    “This feels like a vote McConnell could take to Trump to make a case for bringing all this to an end,” Blake said via Twitter.    “And I’m not sure McConnell would be sad about it.”
    In another significant move, House Democratic leaders are drafting a letter to Trump that would propose $5 billion in border security if he agrees to reopen the government.
    The proposal does not include money for any “new structures” along the southern border as the president demanded, so it is unlikely to move as is.    But it does provide a glimmer of hope for a resolution to the shutdown and marks the first time Democratic leaders will broadly lay out what they might accept in a compromise.
    USA TODAY contributed to this story.    Reporter Phillip M. Bailey can be reached at 502-582-4475 or pbailey@    Support strong local journalism by subscribing today:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell departs the Senate Chamber. JACK GRUBER/USA TODAY
[Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Mitt Romney of Utah and Johnny Isakson of Georgia are the ones who will not get Trump support for future elections.].

1/25/2019 U.S. to start returning asylum seekers to Mexico on Friday by Frank Jack Daniel and Mica Rosenberg
Migrants from Central America are seen escorted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials
after crossing the border from Mexico to surrender to the officials in El Paso, Texas, U.S.,
in this picture taken from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
    MEXICO CITY/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. government will return the first group of migrants seeking asylum in the United States to the Mexican border city of Tijuana on Friday, U.S. and Mexican officials said, marking the start of a major policy shift by the Trump administration.
    The policy dubbed the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) and first announced on Dec. 20 will return non-Mexican migrants who cross the U.S. southern border back to wait in Mexico while their asylum requests are processed in U.S. immigration courts.
    The plan is aimed at curbing the increasing number of families arriving mostly from Central America who say they fear returning to their home countries due to threats of violence.    The Trump administration says many of the claims are not valid.
    The program will apply to arriving migrants who ask for asylum at ports of entry or who are caught crossing illegally and say they are afraid to return home.
    Children traveling on their own and some migrants from “vulnerable populations” could be excluded on a case-by-case basis, the Department of Homeland Security said in a fact sheet.
    “The MPP will provide a safer and more orderly process that will discourage individuals from attempting illegal entry and making false claims to stay in the U.S., and allow more resources to be dedicated to individuals who legitimately qualify for asylum,” the DHS said.
    Illegal crossings at the southern border have dropped dramatically since highs reached in previous decades, but in recent years more families and unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are migrating to the United States and asylum applications have ballooned.
    Last year, about 93,000 people sought asylum at the southern border, up 67 percent from 2017, according to U.S. government data.
    Asylum seekers are typically granted the right to stay in the United States while their cases are decided by a U.S. immigration judge, but a backlog of more than 800,000 cases means the process can take years.
    Now, the U.S. government says migrants will be turned away with a “notice to appear” in immigration court.    They will be able to enter the United States for their hearings but will have to live in Mexico in the interim.    If they lose their cases, they will be deported to their home countries.
    Mexico has said it will not accept anybody facing a credible threat in Mexican territory.
    But immigration advocates fear Mexican territory is not safe for migrants who are regularly kidnapped by criminal gangs and smugglers, and have raised concerns that applicants will not be able to access proper legal counsel to represent them in U.S. courts.
    It is unclear how Mexico plans to house what could be thousands of asylum seekers for the lengthy duration of their immigration proceedings.    Some Mexican border towns are more violent than the cities the Central Americans left behind.
    The Trump administration says it is relying on a U.S. law that allows migrants attempting to enter the United States from a contiguous country to be removed to that country.    But the policy will likely be challenged in court since claiming asylum is protected under both international and U.S. law.
    Several of Trump’s signature immigration policies, including some attempting to reduce asylum applications, have been halted by U.S. federal courts.
    Trump argues that the asylum system is abused, calling a process by which many migrants are freed in the United States to await immigration trial “catch and release.”
    Trump is demanding $5.7 billion in funding for a wall along the Mexican border, triggering a U.S. partial government shutdown that stretched to its 34th day on Thursday and has left 800,000 federal workers without pay.
(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Peter Cooney and Leslie Adler)
[So this is what happens in 8 years of abuse during the Obama administration.].

1/25/2019 Germany: Venezuela needs fair, free elections or Guaido should be interim leader
FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators clash with police during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's
government in Caracas, Venezuela January 23, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero/File Photo
    BERLIN (Reuters) – The German government said on Friday that Venezuela needed to hold free and fair presidential elections or opposition leader Juan Guaido should be declared interim president.
    Guaido declared himself interim president on Wednesday, winning support from U.S. President Donald Trump and some Latin American countries.
    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro cannot be the legitimate leader because the elections that had returned him to office were not fair, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

1/25/2019 Migration pushes German population to record high of 83 million
People walk in a square next to the Brandenburg Gate during snowfall in Berlin, Germany, January 3, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
    BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s population last year reached a record high of 83 million people due to positive net migration that easily offset a chronic deficit in births, the statistics office said on Friday.
    The preliminary estimate for 2018 compares with 82.8 million people in 2017, it said.
    The European Union’s most populous country, which has enjoyed economic growth for nine consecutive years, posted net migration of up to 380,000 people in 2018, the data showed, while the birth deficit – the surplus of deaths over births – was estimated at between 150,000 and 180,000.
    “Despite rising population figures the demographic aging advances,” the statistics office said.
    The net migration figure is the lowest since 2012 and sharply down from 2015, when around one million asylum seekers, mostly Muslims fleeing conflicts in the Middle East, arrived.
    Germany also attracts thousands of young people from other European countries each year, who come here either to study or work.
        Demographics is a contentious issue in Germany, where many rural areas struggle with a declining population.
    In contrast, many large cities are booming, pushing up real estate prices and rents.
    The statistics office expects the population to shrink to 79 million by 2030, when people aged 65 or older will make up 28 percent of the population.
(Reporting by Thomas Seythal; Editing by Gareth Jones)

1/25/2019 White House: Roger Stone’s indictment has nothing to do with President Trump by OAN Newsroom
    The White House has responded to the recent arrest and indictment of President Trump’s ex-adviser Roger Stone.
    While speaking outside the White House Friday, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the special counsel’s latest indictment has nothing to do with the president or the administration.
    When asked if President Trump encouraged Stone to make false statements, Sanders said the implication is absolutely ridiculous and insulting and simply not true.
    The press secretary said she hopes the same standards applied against Stone will also be applied to others who have been accused of lying under oath to Congress, and named off James Comey, James Clapper and Hillary Clinton.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders listens to a question as she speaks
with reporters outside the White House, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    Stone was arrested Friday morning in Florida and has been indicted on a number of charges, including lying during his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee.
    According to a 24-page indictment released by the special counsel Friday, he was arrested on one-count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five-counts of making false statements, and one-count of witness tampering.
Indictment on Roger Stone
    He has been under investigation by Mueller for his alleged ties to the WikiLeaks document dump ahead of the 2016 presidential election.    Stone has adamantly denied all accusations of wrongdoing, and has blasted the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt.”
Roger Stone. (Seth Wenig/AP/Photo)

1/25/2019 Migrant caravan reaches Veracruz, Mexico by OAN Newsroom
A Central American migrant and his son, part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, walk on a
road in Tapachula, Chiapas State, Mexico, Friday, Jan. 18,2019. Hundreds of Central American migrants are walking and hitchhiking through
the region as part of a new caravan of migrants hoping to reach the United States. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
    As negotiations over a border wall continue, the latest Central American caravan continues to migrate north.
    According to reports Thursday, the caravan members, who began their trip in Honduras, have arrived in Mexico’s gulf state of Veracruz.
    Officials have set up temporary shelters at a local market, while authorities are working on setting up medical and food facilities.
    In the meantime, Mexico’s interior minister — Olga Sanchez — said the government is working to grant work permits to migrants who wish to stay in the country and not seek asylum in the U.S.
    “The immigration policy from the Mexican government also gives permission for visitors from border states to work,” stated Sanchez.    “Currently, it is just for Guatemala and Belize but will be extended to El Salvador and Honduras.”
    President Trump commented on the latest migrant caravan from the White House Thursday, saying some of the migrants ended up settling in Tijuana.    He also praised Border Patrol and ICE officials by saying they’ve done a wonderful job in securing the nation’s border.
    However, he added, if the U.S. had a wall the caravans would not pose much of a problem.

1/25/2019 Health care industry launches digital ad against Medicare for All by OAN Newsroom
    Last year, the health care industry formed a non-profit called ‘Partnership for America’s Health Care Future’ (PAHCF), which is a coalition of pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies and hospitals fighting against ‘Medicare for All.’
    This week the group published a 2.5-minute digital ad, which will run on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as part of a three-week campaign.
    While the partnership does support improving health care quality and providing more choices, they remain opposed to a one-size-fits-all Medicare plan.    PAHCF supporters claim it would increase wait times and hurt competition.
An electronic patients chart is shown on the wall to a hospital room in San Diego, Calif. (Photo/REUTERS/Mike Blake)
    Since the rise of Bernie Sanders in 2016, liberals have made “single payer” a mainstream, acceptable idea for all Democrats and the coalition is preparing for the lefts talking points.
    “You the Republican Party have no credibility on the issue of health care,” stated Sanders.
    “Medicare should be there for everybody in this country, it is time for ‘Medicare for All’ — universal health care for every single American,” stated Obama-era Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.
    As Democrats continue their ‘Medicare for All’ pursuit, those opposed are getting ready for another fight.
[Sanders does not tell the whole story, of cost, scheduling, etc., etc., so be aware.].

1/25/2019 House GOP introduces bill to expand President Trump’s tariff powers by OAN Newsroom
    Republican lawmakers are introducing legislation drafted by the White House to expand President Trump’s ability to negotiate fair trade deals for the U.S.
    Representative Sean Duffy introduced the Reciprocal Trade Act on Thursday.    This would allow the president to raise tariffs on foreign products in order to match the expensive duties charged by other countries.    The bill would also allow President Trump to take into account non-tariff barriers when making a decision.
    According to the president, the legislation will actually reduce tariffs in the long run by forcing U.S. trading partners to make concessions.
    “But you look at whiskey, so India gets 150-percent and we get nothing — I will tell you that those are just a few of the products, it’s actually much worse than that as bad as that sounds and all we’re saying is ‘if you’re going to charge us 150-percent, we’re going to charge you 150-percent’ and what will happen in many cases, we’ll both charge each other nothing or we’ll charge 150-percent, that’s okay too,” explained President Trump.
In this Wednesday, June 20, 2018, photo Becky Harris left, and Addie Rodgers move a barrel
of whiskey in the Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
    The legislation faces an uphill battle in the House, where Democrats now have the majority and are unlikely to expand the president’s executive powers.

1/25/2019 Sen. Schumer blocks GOP bill to pay members of the Coast Guard by OAN Newsroom
    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is blocking legislation to pay the Coast Guard amid the looming government shutdown.    Democrats shot the measure down on Thursday, because it didn’t provide funding for the rest of the government affected by the shutdown.
    Republican Senator John Kennedy countered Schumer on the Senate floor by reminding lawmakers that the Coast Guard is the only military branch going without pay.
U.S. Coast Guardsmen Gustavo Rosas, who missed his first paycheck a day earlier during the partial government shutdown,
monitors marine vessel traffic at Sector Puget Sound base Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Seattle. The Coast Guard is part of
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which is unfunded during the shutdown. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
    Members of the Coast Guard received their last paycheck on December 31, 2018, forcing many service members to turn to donations to make ends meet.
    “We have about 41,000 active duty service members of the United States Coast Guard — they are running vital missions right now madam president in the South China Sea, they are protecting our air space and ports along 12,000 miles of coastline, they are performing search and rescue missions,” explained Senator Kennedy.
    The lack of funding also affects roughly 50,000 Coast Guard retirees and their survivors, who are expected to miss their first payment on February 1, 2019.

1/25/2019 Venezuela’s Maduro closes embassy and all consulates in U.S. by OAN Newsroom
    Dictator Nicolas Maduro orders Venezuela’s Embassy and consulates in the U.S. to close.    Maduro issued the demand on Thursday, just a day after the regime announced it would cut all political and diplomatic ties with Washington.
    The leader has also ordered all Venezuelan personnel and diplomats to return to the country as early as Saturday.
    This comes as tensions between the U.S. and Maduro are at an all-time high after the White House announced its decision to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president.
Venezuela’s Embassy in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. President Nicolas Maduro ordered
all of Venezuela’s diplomats home from the United States and defiantly closed the country’s embassy as relations
between the two nations rapidly collapsed.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
    “That’s why I announce to the people and free nations of the world that as a constitutional president, head of state and head of government, I swear I respect my duties, fulfill it and enforce the independence, sovereignty and peace of our country,” stated Maduro.    “I announce that Venezuela breaks its diplomatic and political relations with the imperialist government of the United States.”
    The Venezuelan has reportedly welcomed talks with opposition leader Guaido to work out the country’s political crisis.

1/25/2019 President Trump reopens government by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump has announced a deal has been reached to reopoen the government for three-weeks.    While speaking from the Rose Garden Friday, the president said he will sign a short-term funding bill, which would reopen the government until February 15, 2019 without border wall funding.
    This comes after Democrats rejected a proposal on Thursday to temporarily reopen the government.
    During the next three weeks, lawmakers will come together to negotiate a border security package.    The president cautioned, however, if talks do not result in a fair agreement then he will consider the alternative.
    “We really have no choice, but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” stated President Trump.    “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15th again or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency, we will have great security.”
President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, Jan 25, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    The president thanked furloughed federal workers and their families, and promised they will receive their back pay as soon as possible.
    The Senate is set to vote on the short-term bill Friday evening.

1/25/2019 French citizens condemn police use of non-lethal weapons in ‘yellow vest’ protests by OAN Newsroom
    Chaos from France’s ‘yellow vest’ protest is escalating as citizens condemn police on their use of non-lethal weapons.    On Friday, thousands of demonstrators have called action against rubber bullets and tear gas used during the violent protests, saying they can cause serious injuries if not used correctly.
    This comes after photos of protesters suffering gruesome head injuries have circulated on social media.
FILE – In this file photo, a demonstrator waves the French flag onto a burning barricade on the Champs-Elysees avenue with the
Arc de Triomphe in background. Thousands of demonstrators will again take to the streets across France this weekend in protest of French
president Emmanuel Macron’s policies, while anti-yellow vests groups have also planned to use street action to condemn violence. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)
    As a result the French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced that officers will be equipped with body cameras to record their use of weapons as evidence of any suspected wrongdoing.
    “The risks are great if the authorities are not trained to act appropriately according to a situation and if they do not respect the rules of the job and to act proportionately,” he stated.    “I have complete confidence in our security forces, but it’s true that at the moment, for example, the great majority of our police forces have had to suspend their training.”
    He went on to say that officers will be equipped with body cameras starting Saturday as demonstrations against the president’s policies is expected to enter it’s eleventh weekend.

1/26/2019 Stone charges reflect on Trump aides by David Jackson, Kevin Johnson and Brad Heath, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – Federal agents arrested Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to President Donald Trump, Friday on charges that he had lied to investigators about efforts by top Trump campaign aides to learn about emails the Russian government had stolen from his political rivals.
    Special counsel Robert Mueller revealed the charges, including counts of obstruction and witness tampering, after FBI agents arrested Stone at his Florida home before sunrise.
    The charges against Stone offer the first view from prosecutors of efforts by members of the Trump campaign to obtain information about WikiLeaks’ plans to release hacked documents that they believed would be damaging to Trump’s 2016 opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.    Prosecutors have said the hacks were carried out by a Russian intelligence service.    Prosecutors said one unnamed senior campaign official was “directed” to communicate with Stone about future releases of the records.
    “On multiple occasions, Stone told senior Trump Campaign officials about materials possessed by (WikiLeaks) and the timing of future releases,” prosecutors wrote in an indictment unsealed Friday morning.
    Stone said he had been “falsely accused.”    Speaking outside a Florida courthouse Friday morning, he said that “after a two-year inquisition, the charges today relate in no way to Russian collusion, WikiLeaks collaboration or any other illegal act in connection with the 2016 campaign.”
    The White House distanced itself from the indictment.    “This has nothing to do with the president,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
    Trump dismissed the arrest in a post on Twitter as the “Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country! NO COLLUSION!.”
    Stone, a self-described “dirty trickster,” is the latest Trump associate to face criminal charges in the investigation.    He has said he is innocent and that Mueller is conducting a vendetta against him and the president.
    In a 24-page indictment unsealed on Friday, prosecutors charged that in the summer of 2016, as Trump was securing the Republican nomination, Stone “spoke to senior Trump Campaign officials about Organization 1 and information it might have had that would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign.”    Organization 1 is a reference to WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group that published troves of documents stolen from Democratic political organizations.
    Later, prosecutors said, “Stone was contacted by senior Trump Campaign officials to inquire about future releases by Organization 1.”
    Mueller’s office did not allege that Stone or other campaign aides worked with WikiLeaks to release the stolen records.    Instead, they allege that Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee during its investigation of Russian election interference, and that he tried to conceal emails and other records the committee had requested.
    Stone was indicted by a grand jury in Washington on Thursday.    Mueller’s office asked the judge to keep the charges secret until he could be arrested.
Roger Stone, a confidant of President Donald Trump, speaks Friday morning
outside of federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. LYNNE SLADKY/AP

1/26/2019 Shutdown’s end at hand - Trump, Democrats both claim victory Friday by Michael Collins, Eliza Collins, David Jackson, John Fritze and Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Friday he will support an agreement to end the partial government shutdown that does not include border wall funding, likely marking a close to the longest lapse in government services in U.S. history.
    “We have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government,” he said. Trump’s decision, which he announced during a hastily arranged address in the White House Rose Garden, came amid mounting pressure from members of Congress to end the impasse.    That pressure only built Friday as airports along the East Coast reported delays due to a lack of air traffic controllers.
    The deal, hammered out during negotiations with Senate leaders, would reopen the government for three weeks and does not include money for Trump’s proposed border wall.    Democrats have flatly rejected funding for the wall until the government reopens.
    Trump hinted at the possibility, once again, of declaring a national emergency to find money for his proposed border wall if Congress does not reach an agreement on that issue.
    “I have a very powerful alternative, but I didn’t want to use it at this time,” Trump said.
    Competing measures to reopen the government failed in the Senate on Thursday, setting off a flurry of negotiations should and injecting a sense of urgency into the talks that had been missing since nine federal departments closed last month.    The idea of a short-term measure to reopen the government for three weeks emerged as part of those discussions.
    The House and the Senate were both expected to vote on the agreement on Friday.
    In his remarks, Trump sought to declare victory, but he still endorsed a temporary spending plan with no wall funding.    The question of wall funding remains open, however, and the reopening is only until Feb. 15.
    Trump said a committee will work on an overall border security plan as the government is reopened.    “The wall not be controversial,” he said.
    “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress,” he said, “the government will either shut down on Feb. 15, again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution ... to address this emergency.”
    Trump continued to stump for his border wall, saying Democrats have backed wall funding in the past.    He also played down the scope of his plan, saying his wall would not be built coast-to-coast, and could just as easily be steel slat fencing.
    Following Trump’s speech, lawmakers on Capitol Hill expressed optimism that the shutdown would soon be over.
    “Now that there’s an agreement between Democrats and the White House, we can make that happen,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he expected the deal to clear Congress and be signed into law by Trump on Friday.    Schumer also bragged on the Senate floor that Trump had caved since Democrats had refused to discuss funding for the wall while the government was shut down.
    “This agreement endorses that position,” Schumer said.    “It reopens the government without preconditions.”
    Hopefully, Schumer added, a lesson has been learned from the 35-day impasse.    “Shutting down government over a policy difference is self-defeating,” he said.
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, DCalif., said disagreements over public policy “should never be a reason to shut down the government.”
    “I’m sad it has taken this long” to resolve the standoff, she said.
    The push to end the shutdown grew more urgent on Friday after the FAA halted flights coming into New York’s LaGuardia Airport because of staffing shortage and other delays reported at airports in Boston, Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia.
    Also Friday, some 800,000 federal employees who have been on unpaid leave or working without pay missed their second paycheck.
    Congress already has passed legislation – and Trump has signed it – guaranteeing them back pay.    The bill applies not only to workers furloughed during the current shutdown, but mandates that workers furloughed in future shutdowns also get back pay.    The law does not cover federal contractors, who will not get paid unless Congress passes legislation mandating that they also compensated.
President Donald Trump announces Friday that a deal has been reached to reopen the government through Feb. 15. OLIVIER DOULIERY/GETTY IMAGES/POOL

1/26/2019 Pope condemns ‘senseless’ stigmatizing of migrants by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis hears a confession of an inmate at a juvenile detention center
in Pacora, Panama, January 25, 2019. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
    PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Friday it was “senseless and irresponsible” to stigmatize migrants and see all of them as threats to society, weighing in again on one of the most divisive issues in the United States.
    Francis, who has made migration a key theme of his trip to Panama, spoke to several hundred thousand young people at a religious service on the waterfront of the country’s capital, one of the key events of the Roman Catholic Church’s World Youth Day.
    “We want to be a church that fosters a culture that welcomes, protects, promotes and integrates; that does not stigmatize, much less indulge in a senseless and irresponsible condemnation of every immigrant as a threat to society,” he said.
    Hours earlier, President Donald Trump agreed under mounting pressure to end a 35-day-old partial U.S. government shutdown but without getting the $5.7 billion he had demanded from Congress for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
    At Friday night’s event known as a “Via Crucis” (Way of the Cross), Francis spoke of learning “how to welcome and take in all those abandoned, and forced to leave or lose their land, their roots, their families and their work.”
    “How are we to react to Jesus as he suffers, travels, emigrates in the faces of many our friends, or of all those strangers that we have learned to make invisible?” Francis said.
    It was the latest time the pope has waded into the standoff over funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. He told reporters on the plane from Rome on Wednesday that hostility to immigrants was driven by irrational fear.
    He and Trump have sparred before on migration, particularly on the border wall.
    Since mid-October, thousands of Central Americans, mostly from Honduras, have traveled north to the United States through Mexico in caravans, some walking much of the way.
    Many are seeking asylum, saying they suffer from rampant crime and bleak opportunities in their native countries.
    On Friday morning, Francis visited a juvenile jail to comfort young people who could not leave to attend the global gathering of Catholic youth, and the pontiff urged society to give offenders everywhere a second chance.
    “A society grows sick when it is unable to celebrate change in its sons and daughters,” he said at a prayer service with about 200 juvenile inmates in the town of Pacora, east of Panama City.
    Francis, a strong supporter of rehabilitation of inmates and an opponent of life imprisonment, has visited many prisons in Italy and on his overseas trips.
    He has called for a worldwide ban on the death penalty, and under his watch last year the Catholic Church formally changed its teaching to declare capital punishment inadmissible in any circumstance.
    One out of every three criminals in Latin America are repeat offenders and the majority commit crimes that are more serious than those for which they were first jailed, according to a study by the Inter-American Development Bank.
(Additional reporting by Diego Ore; Editing by David Gregorio and Leslie Adler)
[Since the Pope believes that, then we will put them all on a ship and send them to Italy and then to Rome.].

1/26/2019 Pres. Trump defends Roger Stone by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump addresses the arrest of his long-time friend and political advocate Roger Stone.
Roger Stone, a confidant of President Donald Trump, speaks outside of the federal courthouse following
a hearing, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Stone was arrested Friday in the special counsel’s Russia investigation
and was charged with lying to Congress and obstructing the probe. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
    In a tweet Saturday, the president said “if Roger Stone was indicted for lying to Congress, what about the lying done by Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Lisa Page and Lover, Baker and so many others.”
    He added “what about Hillary to FBI and her 33,000 deleted emails, what about Lisa and Peter’s deleted texts and Weiners laptop, much more.”
    The tweet comes after Roger Stone’s arrest and indictment Friday for alleged obstruction of justice and lying to Congress.
    Stone has denied all accusations and plans to plead not guilty to the charges.
    Trump tweet: “If Roger Stone was indicted for lying to Congress, what about the lying done by Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Lisa Page & lover, Baker and soooo many others? What about Hillary to FBI and her 33,000 deleted Emails? What about Lisa & Peter’s deleted texts & Wiener’s laptop? Much more!

1/26/2019 Pres. Trump says 8k person caravan coming to border, calls for wall by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump continues to make the case for the wall, as he gears up for fresh border talks with Democrats.
FILE – In this Nov. 21, 2018, file photo, a homeless man walks next to the fence that divides Mexico and the U.S,
in Tijuana, Mexico. The Trump administration expects to launch a policy as early as Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, that forces people
seeking asylum to wait in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. courts, an official said, marking one of the most
significant changes to the immigration system of Donald Trump’s presidency. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)
    On Saturday, the president tweeted “we have turned away at great expense, two major caravans, but a big one has now formed and is coming, at least 8,000 people!"
    He then said if we had a powerful wall, they wouldn’t even try to make the long and dangerous journey, and finished with “build the wall and crime will fall!
    The president’s comment comes as thousands of Central American migrants head towards the U.S. Mexico border, in an effort to claim>     Trump tweet: “We have turned away, at great expense, two major Caravans, but a big one has now formed and is coming. At least 8000 people! If we had a powerful Wall, they wouldn’t even try to make the long and dangerous journey. Build the Wall and Crime will Fall!

1/26/2019 Pres. Trump says border negotiations with Dems to start immediately by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump says there is no time to waste on jump starting border security talks.
President Donald Trump announces a deal to temporarily reopen the government,
in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    Saturday on Twitter the president said “21 days goes very quickly, and negotiations with Democrats will start immediately.”
    He added it “will not be easy to make a deal, with both parties very dug in.”
    He then said “the case for national security has been greatly enhanced by what has been happening at the border and through dialogue, we will build the wall!
    The president’s message comes after a historic 35-day government shutdown came to an end Friday night, after Democrats agreed to continue border security talks, and come to a deal within the next three weeks.
    Trump tweet: “21 days goes very quickly. Negotiations with Democrats will start immediately. Will not be easy to make a deal, both parties very dug in. The case for National Security has been greatly enhanced by what has been happening at the Border & through dialogue. We will build the Wall!

1/26/2019 Maduro: Venezuela’s Govt preparing for potential armed conflict with U.S. by OAN Newsroom
    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says the country is preparing for a potential armed conflict with the U.S.
    Maduro made the comments during a press conference on Friday, just a day after calling to close the Venezuelan embassy and its consulates in the U.S.
FILE – In this Jan. 10, 2019, file photo, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro holds up a small copy of the constitution
as he speaks during his swearing-in ceremony at the Supreme Court in Caracas, Venezuela. The coalition of Latin American
governments that joined the U.S. in quickly recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president,
and not Maduro, came together during weeks of secret diplomacy. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File)
    He went on to say the National Bolivarian Armed Forces are willing and ready to take the appropriate measures, to stand against any enemies that may arise in a potential coup.
    While the White House claims “all options are still on the table with Venezuela,” officials said, they are not actively considering to take action.
    “The conflict may happen, because they have said they are going to put the Marines in Caracas, and they will send them I don’t know where, and so, in each city, in each town; we will have a defense plan and a reaction plan for combat and victory,” said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
    President Maduro also announced Friday, military exercises would be held in Venezuela between February 10th through 15th.

1/26/2019 Dem Rep. Omar criticized for asking for leniency in ISIS case by OAN Newsroom
    A freshman Democrat representative is again coming under fire, after appearing to support a group of potential ISIS terrorists.
    Reports on Saturdays said, Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar asked a judge in 2016, to show leniency toward nine men charged with planning to join ISIS.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., conduct a news conference
in the Capitol on January 10, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
    The men had been taken into custody in 2015, in a plot to buy fake passports and travel to Syria to join the Islamic state.
    One of the men said during the trial, he was not going to Syria to pass out medical kits or food, but was going “strictly to fight and kill on behalf” of ISIS.
    The report comes just a day after Omar came under fire, for accusing president trump of backing a coup in the socialist-led country of Venezuela.
[Maybe we should send her with them.].

1/26/2019 U.S. calls on world to ‘pick a side’ on Venezuela; Europeans set to recognize Guaido by Michelle Nichols and Mayela Armas
Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido speaks during a rally with members of the Venezuela’s National Assembly regarding
an amnesty law project for members of the military, in Caracas, Venezuela, January 26, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
    UNITED NATIONS/CARACAS (Reuters) – The United States on Saturday called on the world to “pick a side” on Venezuela and urged countries to financially disconnect from Nicolas Maduro’s government, while European powers signaled they were set to follow Washington in recognizing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s rightful leader.
    In heated back-and-forth exchanges at a United Nations Security Council meeting, the opposing camp led by Venezuela and Russia, which has invested heavily in Venezuela’s oil industry, accused Washington of attempting a coup, and lambasted Europeans’ demand that elections be called within eight days.     Guaido, who took the helm of the National Assembly on Jan. 5, proclaimed himself interim president on Wednesday.    The United States, Canada and a string of Latin American countries recognized the young leader in quick succession.    But Maduro, who has led the oil-rich nation since 2013 and has the support of the armed forces, has refused to stand down.
    Speaking at the U.N. meeting called by the United States, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Maduro’s “socialist experiment” had caused the economy to collapse and reduced ordinary Venezuelans to rooting through dumpsters for food.
    “Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side. … Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem,” Pompeo told the council.    “We call on all members of the Security Council to support Venezuela’s democratic transition and interim President Guaido’s role.”
    Pompeo also called on the international community to disconnect their financial systems from Maduro’s regime.
    Washington has signaled it was ready to step up economic measures to try to drive Maduro from power, but on Saturday Pompeo declined to elaborate on any such plans.
    By overcoming opposition to holding the U.N. meeting on Saturday, Washington successfully put the global spotlight on Venezuela as a Security Council problem.    However, any council action to address the crisis would be blocked by veto-powers Russia and China, diplomats said.
    Britain, Germany, France and Spain all said on Saturday they would recognize Guaido if Maduro failed to call fresh elections in eight days, an ultimatum Russia said was “absurd” and the Venezuelan foreign minister called “childlike.”
    “Europe is giving us eight days?    Where do you get that you have the power to establish a deadline or an ultimatum to a sovereign people?”    Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told the Security Council.
    Russia also said military intervention in Venezuela should be avoided at any cost, while Caracas reiterated that its offer of dialogue with President Donald Trump’s government was still on the table despite his administration’s two-year campaign against Maduro.
    “If President Trump, like other presidents of the United States, is in search of war to show he can govern and to stimulate the economy, he won’t get that war in Venezuela,” Arreaza told reporters later.
    Venezuela has sunk into turmoil under Maduro with food shortages and daily protests amid an economic and political crisis that has sparked mass emigration and inflation that is seen rising to 10 million percent this year.
    Maduro cruised to re-election last May amid low turnout and allegations of vote buying by the government.    The domestic opposition, the United States and right-leaning Latin American governments declined to recognize the result of the ballot.
    Venezuelan opposition sympathizers had been urging Guaido to assume the presidency since Maduro was inaugurated for a second term on Jan. 10.    Hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Caracas earlier this week, calling on Maduro to step down.
    Guaido’s declaration of himself as the interim president takes Venezuela into uncharted territory, with the possibility of the opposition now running a parallel government recognized abroad as legitimate but without control over state functions.
    On Saturday, Guaido celebrated the support of European countries and asked them to send humanitarian aid to help relieve the economic crisis.    “We woke up today with nothing less than the full support of the European community,” Guaido said at a small political event in a square in the capital Caracas.
    “Several European countries have been in touch with us and are going to support the entry of humanitarian aid. … We continue adding countries to this great effort,” he said.
    The Maduro government has previously rejected such aid, denying there is a humanitarian crisis in the country and blaming economic problems on sanctions.
    After Washington’s declaration of support for Guaido, Maduro cut off diplomatic relations with the United States on Wednesday and gave U.S. diplomats 72 hours to leave the country.
    Although some diplomats left on Friday, Guaido said the U.S. embassy was still working and that embassy officials had been to visit him.
(Additional reporting by Paul Day in Madrid and Frank Jack Daniel in Caracas; Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Mary Milliken and Jonathan Oatis)

1/26/2019 French ‘yellow vests’ defy Macron with fresh protests
A protester wearing a yellow vest holds a flare as he takes part in a demonstration of the
"yellow vests" movement in Marseille, France, January 26, 2019. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
    PARIS (Reuters) – Thousands of “yellow vest” demonstrators marched through Paris and other cities on Saturday on the 11th weekend of action against the government, suggesting President Emmanuel Macron has yet to defuse public opposition to some of his policies.
    The protests were mostly peaceful but there were sporadic clashes at the end of the Paris march at Bastille square, and incidents elsewhere around France, with a combined 22,000 people attending as of the early afternoon, the interior ministry said.
    The protests – named after the fluorescent jackets French motorists are required to carry in their cars – began in mid-November over plans to raise fuel taxes before developing into a broader revolt against the government that mobilized tens of thousands each weekend.
    Turnout so far was lower than last Saturday, particularly in Paris.    However, in a change of approach, some protesters have also called for an evening gathering, dubbed “Yellow Night,” at Republic square, a common venue for demonstrations in Paris.
    In one of several processions in the capital, a few hundred demonstrators walked down the Champs-Elysees, the famous avenue that has been the scene of protests every weekend, and across town to Bastille square.
    As in previous weeks, protesters carried French flags and held signs attacking “King Macron” as out of touch or calling for referendums tabled by ordinary citizens.
    As the march converged on Bastille, small groups of protesters formed makeshift barriers, lit fires and threw projectiles at police, who responded with tear gas and water canon, television footage showed.
    Police made 42 arrests in Paris, prefectural authorities said.
    But as on the last two Saturdays in the capital, the incidents were minor compared with the violence seen in December – the worst trouble of its kind in decades in Paris.
    Elsewhere in France, protesters marched through the eastern city of Strasbourg to the European Parliament.
    In the southwest, marches took place in Bordeaux and Toulouse, which have been focal points of the movement, while there were some confrontations during protests in Marseille and Lyon.
    To help quell discontent, Macron this month launched a series of public debates that he promised will lead to measures.
    In a sign of divisions within the movement, some “yellow vests” have proposed a list of candidates to run in May’s election for the European Parliament, a move attacked as a betrayal by other activists.
    Those opposed to the movement, meanwhile, are planning a counter-demonstration in Paris on Sunday, mainly to condemn the violence seen during the protests.
(Reporting by Yonathan Van der Voort, Antoine Boddaert, Gus Trompiz and Simon Carraud in Paris; additional reporting by Catherine Lagrange in Lyon, Claude Canellas in Bordeaux, Jean-Francois Rosnobelt in Marseille and Vincent Kessler in Strasbourg; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
[It seems to be hard to get through to King Macron and his E.U. cronies.].

1/26/2019 At U.N., Pompeo asks countries to ‘pick a side’ on Venezuela by Michelle Nichols
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the United Nations during a Security Council meeting about the
situation in Venezuela in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 26, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told countries at the United Nations on Saturday to “pick a side” on Venezuela, urging them to back Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido and calling for free and fair elections as soon as possible.
    Pompeo was addressing the 15-member U.N. Security Council, which met at his request after Washington and a string of countries in the region recognized Guaido as head of state and urged Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to step down.
    “Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side … Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem,” Pompeo told the council.    “We call on all members of the Security Council to support Venezuela’s democratic transition and interim President Guaido’s role.”
    Guaido, who took the helm of the National Assembly on Jan. 5, proclaimed himself interim president on Wednesday though Maduro, who has led the oil-rich nation since 2013 and has the support of the armed forces, has refused to stand down.
    Maduro cruised to re-election in May last year amid low turnout and allegations of vote-buying by the government.    The domestic opposition, the United States and right leaning Latin American governments declined to recognize the result of the vote.
    Under Maduro, Venezuela has sunk into turmoil with food shortages and daily protests amid an economic and political crisis that has sparked mass emigration and inflation that is seen rising to 10 million percent this year.
    Britain, Germany, France, Spain and Belgium all said on Saturday they would recognize Guaido as interim president unless Maduro called fresh elections within eight days.
    “Europe is giving us eight days? Where do you get that you have the power to establish a deadline or an ultimatum to a sovereign people,” Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told the Security Council.    “It’s almost childlike.”
    Arreaza said Maduro’s government still hopes to establish communication and dialogue with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.    “That offer stands,” he told the council.
    Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia called the eight day ultimatum “absurd.”    Moscow opposes the U.S. efforts and has accused Washington of backing a coup attempt, placing Venezuela at the heart of a growing geopolitical duel.
    “This is not about foreign intervention in Venezuela,” former U.S. diplomat Elliott Abrams, who Pompeo named on Friday to lead U.S. efforts on Venezuela, told the council.
    Russia failed in a bid to stop Saturday’s Security Council meeting. China, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea voted with Moscow to block the meeting, while nine countries voted in favor of the meeting. Ivory Coast and Indonesia abstained.
    “We strongly condemn those who are pushing the Venezuelan society to the edge of a bloodbath.    The U.S. are painting a picture of a confrontation between the Maduro regime and the people of Venezuela.    This picture is far from reality,” Nebenzia told the Security Council.
    Russia, China, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea also blocked a U.S. push for a U.N. Security Council statement expressing full support for Venezuela’s National Assembly as the country’s “only democratically elected institution.”
    “China does not interfere in other countries internal affairs.    We hope the country that accuses others can do likewise itself,” said China’s U.N. Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu, referring to the United States.
    The United States has signaled it was ready to step up economic measures to try to drive Maduro from power.
    Pompeo told reporters on Saturday that he hopes countries “will ensure that they disconnect their financial systems from the Maduro regime and allow assets that belong to the Venezuelan people to go to the rightful governors of that state.”
(Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk in Washington, Editing by William Maclean and Diane Craft)

1/26/2019 Mexico receives more than 12,000 humanitarian Visa applications from migrant caravan by OAN Newsroom
Migrants of Honduras and El Salvador stand in line waiting to enter bridge over the Suchiate River on the border between
Guatemala and Mexico, in Tecun Uman, Guatemala, early Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Hundreds of mainly Honduran migrants began
crossing peacefully into Mexico without the confrontations that marked last fall’s migrant caravans. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
    The number of Central American migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. continues to grow as Mexico fast-tracks humanitarian visas.
    Mexican migration officials say, as of Friday, they’ve received more than 10,000 visa applications for adults, and nearly 2,400 for minors.
    Mexico is offering one-year visas to migrants which include the right to work in Mexico and travel the country freely. So far, about 2,200 visas have been granted.
    Honduran nationals make up about seventy-five percent of the caravan, including more 1,800 minors.

1/26/2019 President Trump: Only fools or those with a political agenda don’t want a wall by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump suggests opposition to his proposed barrier at the southern border is either unintelligent or politically motivated.
FILE- In this Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, file photo seen from a window outside the Oval Office, President Donald Trump gives
a prime-time address about border security at the White House in Washington. With the standoff over paying for his long-promised
border wall dragging on, the president’s Oval Office address and visit to the Texas border over the past week failed to break the logjam
and left aides and allies fearful that the president has misjudged Democratic resolve and is running out of negotiating options. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
    The President, in a tweet today, said only “fools or people with a political agenda don’t want a wall or steel barrier to protect our country from crime, drugs, and human trafficking.”
    This comes as the Trump Administration and GOP lawmakers seek to negotiate border wall funding with democrats.
    The President has also left open the possibility he will declare a National Emergency to build the wall if a funding deal cannot be reached.
[I am all for you Trump to declare a National Emergency, and if the Judicial System tries to stop it tell them Article 3, they do not have the right to control the Article 2 rights, show the Article 1 they cannot stop you by their bias views.].

1/27/2019 Mueller finding crime in cover-ups by Eric Tucker and Chad Day, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone may be accused of lying and tampering with witnesses, but it’s equally notable what he’s not charged with: colluding with the Kremlin in a grand conspiracy to help Trump win the presidency in 2016.
    The case is the latest in a series brought by special counsel Robert Mueller to focus on cover-ups but lay out no underlying crime.    It’s a familiar pattern in Washington, where scandals from Watergate to Iran-Contra and Whitewater have mushroomed into presidency-imperiling affairs because of efforts to conceal and mislead.
    In the Russia investigation, one Trump aide after another has been accused of lying to investigators, or encouraging others to do so, about Russia related contacts during the campaign and transition period.
    Mueller may well have evidence of criminal coordination between Trump associates and Russia that he has yet to reveal, but so far, he’s focused repeatedly on those he believes have tried to throw federal or congressional investigators off the trail.
    Stone’s indictment charges him with seven felonies, including witness tampering, obstruction and false statements, while leaving open the question of whether his or the Trump campaign’s interest in exploiting Russia-hacked emails about Democrat Hillary Clinton crossed a legal line.
    “There’s sort of two possible ways this investigation could end up.    One is he finds this big Russian conspiracy or collusion with the Russians to influence the election,” said Randall Eliason, a George Washington University whitecollar criminal law professor and former federal prosecutor.    “The other, I think very real possibility, is he just finds a cover-up.”
    The Stone case is in some way reminiscent of Mueller prosecutions that have accused former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen of lying to Congress about his role in a Moscow real estate project; former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn of lying about his contacts with Russia’s U.S. ambassador; and ex-campaign aide George Papadopoulos of lying about his knowledge that Russia had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of stolen emails.
    In none of those cases did prosecutors say the things the defendants lied about were crimes themselves.
    The absence of a definitive answer to the collusion question, more than 20 months into Mueller’s work, has given the president and his allies a wedge to attack the investigation.
    But with each new charge, Mueller continues to publicly untangle Trump campaign operations and their intersection with Russia’s efforts to hurt Clinton and help Trump.
    The Stone indictment, for instance, reflects an unflattering portrait of a presidential campaign eager to exploit stolen emails about a political opponent.    It alleges that Stone informed senior Trump campaign officials of what Stone was hearing about plans by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks regarding the hacked emails.    It says a senior Trump campaign official “was directed” to contact Stone about additional releases and “what other damaging information” WikiLeaks had “regarding the Clinton campaign.”
Roger Stone, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, leaves the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Friday. JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES

1/27/2019 Venezuelan U.S. defense attache breaks with Maduro as diplomats leave by Angus Berwick
Venezuelan Colonel Jose Luis Silva, Venezuela’s Military Attache at its Washington embassy
to the United States, is interviewed by Reuters after announcing that he is defecting from the government of
President Nicolas Maduro in Washington, U.S., January 26, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
    CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s top military envoy to the United States defected from the government of President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday, as the South American nation said the two countries had scaled back their diplomatic missions to skeleton staff.
    The diplomatic friction and defection was triggered by U.S. recognition of opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president.    Washington, Canada and most Latin American nations said Maduro’s second-term election win was fraudulent.
    “Today I speak to the people of Venezuela, and especially to my brothers in the armed forces of the nation, to recognize President Juan Guaido as the only legitimate president,” Colonel Jose Luis Silva said in a video recorded at the embassy in Washington, seated at a desk alongside the Venezuelan flag.
    Silva told Reuters in Washington that one consular official in Houston and one in another U.S. city also recognized Guaido, but that he was the only diplomat in Washington he knew of who had taken the step. Reuters was not able to independently confirm other defectors.
    “The top brass of the military and the executive branch are holding the armed forces hostage.    There are many, many who are unhappy,” Silva said.    “My message to the armed forces is, ‘Don’t mistreat your people.’    We were given arms to defend the sovereignty of our nation.    They never, never trained us to say, ‘This is for you to attack your people, to defend the current government in power.”
    While small rebellions against Maduro have broken out in Venezuela’s armed forces in recent months, there has been no large scale military uprising against him.
    Guaido welcomed Silva in a message on Twitter and encouraged others to follow his example.    In a tweet, Venezuela’s Defense Ministry called Silva a coward, posting a picture of him emblazoned with the word “traitor” across it in red capital letters.
    U.S. National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis called the defection an example of the principle “that the role of the military is to protect constitutional order, not to sustain dictators and repress its own people.    Encourage others to do the same.”
    A 72-hour deadline issued by Maduro for U.S. embassy personnel to leave Caracas expired on Saturday, after the embattled socialist leader broke off bilateral relations on Wednesday.
    Some U.S. embassy staff left Caracas on Friday, and Venezuela was withdrawing staff from Washington on Saturday, Venezuela’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
.     However, Maduro softened his demand that all U.S. embassy staff withdraw by Saturday.
    Instead, the two countries will seek an agreement to replace the embassies with “Interest Offices” in their respective capitals within 30 days, the statement said.    For decades, diplomacy between Cuba and the United States was represented by an interest section.
    If the two sides fail to reach an agreement, the remaining diplomatic staff will have to leave and the missions will close.
    (We would) “maintain an Interests Office, with minimum personnel, and office of representation of interests as functioned in Cuba.    That is true diplomacy,” Maduro said in a live broadcast with Venezuelan youth.
    “We don’t want to be a North American colony,” he sang during the broadcast, during which he also pounded conga drums.
    For now, the remaining staff can only carry out their activities within the diplomatic missions, the statement said.
    The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the status of the embassy in Caracas.
(Reporting by Angus Berwick in Caracas; Additional reporting by Arlene Eiras in Washington; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel and David Shepardson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Daniel Wallis and Sandra Maler)

1/27/2019 ‘Red scarves’ march in Paris in riposte to ‘yellow vests’
An opponent to the "yellow vests" violent behaviour, wearing a T-shirt which reads "I love my republic,"
takes part in a demonstration by the "red scarves" movement in Paris, France, January 27, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
    PARIS (Reuters) – Thousands of protesters marched through Paris on Sunday to condemn violence in the “yellow vest” movement that has rocked France for weeks with angry protests over President Emmanuel Macron’s rule.
    Some 10,000 people turned out for Sunday’s counter-demonstration, a day after an 11th consecutive Saturday of “yellow vest” demonstrations across France that brought sporadic clashes with police.
    Participants, some wearing red scarves after the name of the counter-movement, displayed slogans like “stop the violence” and “hands off my Republic” in a peaceful afternoon procession in eastern Paris that ended in Bastille square.
    Saturday’s “yellow vest” march in the capital also ended at Bastille, where small groups confronted police and a demonstrator suffered an eye wound that inflamed a debate about whether the authorities are using excessive force.
    The “yellow vest” protesters, who wear the fluorescent jackets French motorists are required to have in their cars, took to the streets in November to oppose a fuel tax rise.    Their movement then developed into a broader revolt against the government.
    Around 69,000 people attended the latest Saturday protests, including 4,000 in Paris, a lower turnout than the previous weekend, the interior minister said.
    However, the injury to well-known activist Jerome Rodrigues attracted more television coverage on Sunday than the “red scarves” march, as it heightened debate over use by police of dispersal grenades and so-called “flashball” pellet guns.
    To help quell discontent, Macron this month launched a series of public debates that he has promised will lead to changes.
(Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Michel Rose; Editing by Mark Potter)

1/27/2019 As nations turn against Maduro, Venezuela leader parades with military by Vivian Sequera
Supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido
hand a document, regarding a proposed amnesty law for members of the military, police and civilians, to the police officer
at the Presidential Residence in Caracas, Venezuela, January 27, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
    CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro oversaw a display of the army’s Russian hardware on Sunday, with anti-aircraft flak and tank rounds pounding a hillside to show military force and loyalty in the face of an international ultimatum to call fresh elections.
    Maduro, 56, is confronting an unprecedented challenge to his authority after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president citing a fraudulent election.    Guaido has won wide international support and offers amnesty to soldiers who join him.    On Sunday, Israel joined the countries backing the 35-year-old leader.
    Early on Sunday, flanked by Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, Maduro watched a platoon of soldiers release volleys of rocket-propelled grenades, machine gun anti-aircraft fire and tank rounds at hillside targets, the Russian ordnance kicking up clouds of dust at the Fort of Paramacay, an armored vehicle base.
    Maduro said the display showed the world he has the backing of the military, and that Venezuela’s armed forces are ready to defend the country.    Maduro says Guaido is taking part in an attempted coup directed by U.S. President Donald Trump’s hardline policy advisers.
    “Nobody respects the weak, cowards, traitors.    In this world what’s respected is the brave, the courageous, power,” Maduro said as the dust settled on the base.
    The show of force was accompanied by a government publicity campaign online based on the slogan “Always Loyal, Never a Traitor,” and followed a high-profile defection by the country’s top military diplomat in the United States on Saturday.
    The Fort of Paramacay, about two hours west of the Capital Caracas, was itself the site of an uprising in 2017, when a group of about 20 soldiers and armed civilians attacked the base.    The leader of the attack, which was quickly subdued, said he was calling for a transition government.
    At United Nation’s Security Council debate on Saturday, Russia and China strongly backed Maduro and rejected calls by the United States, Canada, Latin American nations and European powers for early elections.
    Both Russia and China are major creditors to Venezuela. Since the government of Maduro’s late mentor Hugo Chavez, the OPEC nation has invested heavily in Russian weaponry, including Sukhoi fighter jets and heavy armory.
    The strategic alliance was in evidence last year, when two Russian nuclear-capable bombers landed in Venezuela.
Reuters reported on Friday that private military contractors who do secret missions for Russia flew into Venezuela to beef up security for Maduro.
    In a CNN Turk interview that ran on Sunday, Maduro rejected an international ultimatum to call elections within eight days and said Guaido violated the constitution by declaring himself interim leader.
    Maduro also said he was open to dialogue and that meeting Trump was improbable but not impossible.    The broadcaster dubbed the interview from Spanish into Turkish.
    Washington on Saturday urged the world to “pick a side” on Venezuela and financially disconnect from Maduro’s government.
    Venezuela has sunk into turmoil under Maduro with food shortages and protests amid an economic and political crisis that has sparked mass emigration and inflation that is seen rising to 10 million percent this year.
    Britain, Germany, France and Spain all said they would recognize Guaido if Maduro failed to call fresh elections within eight days, an ultimatum Russia said was “absurd” and the Venezuelan foreign minister called “childlike.”
    Washington, Canada, most Latin American nations and many European states say Maduro stole his second-term election win last May.    The former bus driver and union leader cruised to victory after blocking the main opposition candidates from running. Turnout was low.
    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had voiced his support for Maduro in a phone call on Thursday.
(Reporting by Vivian Sequera; Additional reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen in Istanbul; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by John Stonestreet and Lisa Shumaker)

1/28/2019 Stone decries tactics used by authorities by William Cummings, USA TODAY
    A defiant Roger Stone on Sunday denounced the “Gestapo tactics” of federal authorities and denied the allegations against him just two days after being arrested by the FBI on seven felony charges, including witness tampering, obstruction and lying.
    The charges against the longtime political operative, and associate of President Donald Trump, stem from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.    Stone is charged with lying about his role in the Trump campaign’s attempts to communicate with WikiLeaks about Clinton campaign emails that had been stolen by Russian agents.
    Stone, 66, denied doing anything wrong, calling the indictment against him “thin as piss on a rock” during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”    He also called the manner of his arrest – which took place in a pre-dawn raid at his Florida home on Friday – “extraordinary.”    Stone claimed the FBI was making “an expensive show of force."
    “It’s an attempt to poison the jury pool,” he said.    “These are Gestapo tactics.”

1/28/2019 Oil falls on increased U.S. rig count, China industrial slowdown by Henning Gloystein and Roslan Khasawneh
FILE PHOTO: Crude oil storage tanks are seen from above at the Cushing oil hub,
in Cushing, Oklahoma, March 24, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo
    SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices fell 1 percent on Monday after U.S. companies added rigs for the first time this year, a signal that crude output may rise further, and as China, the world’s second-largest oil user, reported additional signs of an economic slowdown.
    International Brent crude oil futures were at $60.74 a barrel at 0804 GMT, down 90 cents, or 1.46 percent.
    U.S. crude oil futures were at $52.84 per barrel, down 85 cents, or 1.58 percent, from their last settlement.
    High U.S. crude oil production, which rose to a record 11.9 million barrels per day (bpd) late last year, has been weighing on oil markets, traders said.
    In a sign output could rise further, U.S. energy firms last week raised the number of rigs looking for new oil for the first time in 2019 to 862, an addition of 10 rigs, Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its weekly report on Friday.
(GRAPHIC: U.S. oil production & drilling levels –
    Beyond oil supply, a key question for this year will be the magnitude of demand growth.
    Oil consumption has been increasing steadily, and it will likely average above 100 million bpd for the first time ever in 2019, driven largely by a boom in China.
    A global economic slowdown, however, amid a trade dispute between Washington and Beijing is weighing on fuel demand-growth expectations.
    Earnings at China’s industrial firms shrank for a second straight month in December on sluggish factory activity, piling more pressure on the world’s second-largest economy, which reported its slowest pace of growth for last year since 1990.
    “Persistent weakness seen in Chinese economic data has raised downside risks … of lower crude oil imports by Beijing in 2019,” said Benjamin Lu of Singapore-based brokerage Phillip Futures.
    China is trying to stem the slowdown with aggressive fiscal stimulus measures.
    But there are concerns that these measures may not have the desired effect as China’s economy is already laden with massive debt and some of the bigger government spending measures may be of little real use.
    The increased U.S. supply – the United States is now the world’s largest oil producer – and the economic slowdown are weighing on the oil price outlook.
    “We expect U.S. crude oil prices to range between $50-$60 per barrel in 2019 and about $10 more per barrel for Brent,” Tortoise Capital Advisors said in its 2019 oil market outlook.
    Tortoise added, though, that oil prices would be supported above $50 per barrel as it was “very clear that Saudi Arabia will no longer be willing to accept these lower oil prices.”
    The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), de-facto led by Saudi Arabia, started supply cuts late last year to tighten markets and buoy prices.
(Reporting by Henning Gloystein and Roslan Khasawneh; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Tom Hogue)

1/27/2019 Pres. Trump: Voter Fraud is Rampant All Over the Country Citing Texas Stats by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump sounds off on voter fraud related statistics from Texas.
    In a tweet Sunday, the President said 58,000 non-citizens voted in Texas with 95,000 non-citizens registered to vote.
President Donald Trump announces a deal to temporarily reopen the government, in the
Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    The President alleged voter fraud is rampant all across the country, especially in California.
    He then said voter fraud must be stopped and called for stronger voter identification measures.
    This comes after the Texas Secretary of State confirmed the cited statistics last Friday.

1/28/2018 Jens Stoltenberg: President Trump has big impact on NATO alliance by OAN Newsroom
    Strengthening NATO has been an integral part of President Trump’s agenda since day one of his presidency, and was something he often criticized on the campaign trail.
    “NATO is obsolete and it’s extremely expensive for the United States, disproportionately so, and we should readjust NATO,” he stated.
    After securing his place in the Oval Office, the president worked to ensure the 28 other member nations weren’t taking advantage of the U.S.    In July 2018, leaders agreed to increase their defense spending by two-percent, meaning $100 billion would be allocated to strengthen the alliance over the coming years.
    “Tremendous progress has been made; everyone has agreed to substantially up their commitment, they’re going to up it at levels that they’ve never thought of before,” announced President Trump.
    The president’s efforts are now being applauded.    In an interview Sunday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the president’s hardline stance has made an impact on the 70-year-old alliance, which is something he’s suggested in the past.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after a meeting
of the NATO-Russia Council at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
    Despite this, lawmakers at home have taken steps to protect NATO.    Last week, the House approved a bill to ensure the White House can’t use government money to pull out of the treaty.    This comes after the New York Times reported the president allegedly considered withdrawing from the alliance.
    With international praise and commitment from NATO members, however, it doesn’t appear that the Trump administration will be pulling out any time soon.

1/28/2019 Venezuela President Maduro, opposition leader compete for military support by OAN Newsroom
    Venezuela is ditching its plan to cut off diplomatic ties with the U.S. after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to recall diplomats from the country.
    On Saturday, Venezuela said the two countries agreed to keep an “Interest Office” open in their capitals as Caracas tries to reduce tensions with Washington.
    “I have ordered the Foreign Minister to start talks, so as to have an Interests Office of the United States in Venezuela, with minimal personnel and also an office that represents the interests of Venezuela in Washington, like Cuba had when it didn’t have political, diplomatic, commercial relations with the United States,” announced Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
    The plan is for the new offices to open within a month.    This comes just days after President Maduro told U.S. diplomats to leave over     President Trump’s decision to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s interim leader.    While Maduro lashed out at Pompeo in an interview Saturday, he said he’s still seeking to have dialogue with the White House.
FILE – In this Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019 file photo, people gather during a protest against Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro
and in support of an opposition leader self-proclaimed as the interim president of the country in Madrid, Spain.
Banners reads in Spanish: “Freedom” and “Out Maduro.” Venezuela has seen an enormous outflow of people in recent years
as its economy and democratic institutions have crumbled. Now many of these Venezuelans living abroad are anxiously
watching events unfold in Caracas and wondering if they may soon be able to go home. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
    The opposing leaders are now vying for international recognition as well as the loyalty of the Venezuelan military.    Guaido spoke out on Sunday after attending a mass for those killed in recent demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro.
    “Venezuelan soldier, I’m talking to you — this is the moment to be on the constitution’s side,” he stated.    “Soldier of Venezuela, today I give you an order: don’t’ shoot against the Venezuelan people, don’t shoot against those who in a clear and constitutional way have been defending your family, your people, your work, your way of life…don’t repress peaceful demonstrations like before.”
    While many people have turned against Maduro, the military still remains loyal to him despite mounting evidence suggesting the country’s recent election was rigged.    Maduro met with the military on Sunday as they conducted exercises in a show of force.
    As the leader of the country’s Congress, however, Guaido said he should be the rightful president.    He has called for a new round of protests on Wednesday and Sunday.

1/28/2019 Venezuela’s Guaido calls for new protests as pressure on Maduro rises by Brian Ellsworth
Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido accompanied by his wife Fabiana Rosales
attends a holy Mass at a local church in Caracas, Venezuela, January 27, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
    CARACAS (Reuters) – Juan Guaido, the Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed president, on Monday called for new street demonstrations as pressure intensified on President Nicolas Maduro and the crisis-stricken OPEC nation.
    Countries around the world have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader, and the United States vowed to starve Maduro’s administration of oil revenue after he was sworn in Jan. 10 for a second term that was widely dubbed illegitimate.
    Maduro says the United States is promoting a coup against him and promised to stay in office, backed by Russia and China, which have bankrolled his government and fought off efforts to have his government disavowed by the United Nations.
    Guaido said opposition sympathizers should take to the streets on Wednesday to pass out copies of a pamphlet proposing amnesty that would give some legal protection to members of the military in hopes they will turn against Maduro.
    “We must remain united as active agents of change in every corner of the country,” Guaido tweeted on Monday.    “We’re doing well, very well, Venezuela!
    On Sunday, Israel and Australia joined countries backing the 35-year-old Guaido, and U.S. President Donald Trump said his government had accepted Venezuelan opposition figure Carlos Alfredo Vecchio as a diplomatic representative to the United States.
    Guaido took advantage of a major street demonstration on Jan. 23 to swear himself in as the country’s rightful leader, accusing Maduro of usurping power following a disputed 2018 re-election that countries around the world described as a fraud.
    Guaido is asking for help in getting control of the Venezuelan government’s offshore assets.
    In recent days, he urged British Prime Minister Theresa May and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney to block Maduro’s government from collecting more than $1 billion in gold held by the Bank of England.
    Venezuela’s once-buoyant socialist economic system has imploded from corruption and mismanagement since the collapse of world oil prices in 2014, pushing inflation to almost 2 million percent and driving millions of Venezuelans to neighboring countries.
    Maduro says his government is the victim of an “economic war” led by his political adversaries with the help of Washington, which has levied several rounds of sanctions against the country since 2017.
(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

1/28/2019 Alleged Kamala Harris affair sheds light on cronyism in Calif. government by OAN Newsroom
    Kamala Harris is trying to steal the spotlight, while entering an already crowded Democrat ring in the upcoming 2020 elections.    However, a ghost from her past may be coming back to haunt her.
    Harris allegedly had an extramarital affair with San Francisco’s former mayor — Willie Brown — over 20-years ago.    That’s according to Brown himself.
    As mayor, Brown left behind a legacy of steep and enduring tax hikes, and is credited as a major contributor to San Francisco’s homelessness problem. Brown’s many affairs were also reportedly well known for years by California’s political elite, drawing attention to his habit of cronyism among members of his inner circle. This is something Harris seemed to use to her advantage.
Sen. Kamala Harris. (AP/Photo/Alex Brandon)
    According to Brown in a recent op-ed, he appointed Harris to two high level positions during her early career.    Once to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, and again to the California Medical Assistance Commission.    Brown was also reportedly key to helping Harris gain the support of wealthy campaign donors during her run for San Francisco district attorney in the early 2000’s.
    When questions began to swirl over her impartiality, Harris has become keen to distance herself from the former mayor.
    With her sights now on the presidency, its left many wondering what kind of tactics she’ll employ during her campaign.
    In Willie Brown’s own words “that’s politics for ya.”

1/28/2019 President Trump backs proposed bible literacy class legislation by OAN Newsroom
    The president is throwing his support behind bible literacy class measures being proposed across several states.
    On Twitter Monday, President Trump said numerous states were introducing bible literacy classes, which gives students the option of studying the bible.
    Trump tweet: "Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible. Starting to make a turn back? Great!
    The tweet comes after North Dakota state Representative Aaron McWilliams appeared for an interview Monday, saying he was co-sponsoring a bill in his state.
    Other states bringing forward proposals include Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia, Virginia, and Florida.
    The measures would mandate or encourage schools to offer elective courses to teach the historical significance of the bible.
Donald Trump holds up a Bible during the Values Voter Summit. (AP/Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
[Finally I saw a president who was not ashamed to display a Bible in his hands, as I can imagine that the item is probably burning holes in Democrats eyes, like a vampire seeing the sun rise.].

1/28/2019 Sen. Graham: President must act through emergency powers if Congress fails to make deal by OAN Newsroom
    Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is pressuring the president to declare the crisis at the southern border as a national emergency if Democrats refuse to make a deal on border security.
    In a series of tweets Monday, Graham said he is hopeful a deal can be reached, but if not the president must act through emergency powers to build a border wall.
    Graham tweet: “If White House and Congress fail to reach a deal then President @realDonaldTrump must act through emergency powers to build wall/barrier.”
    Graham added, former President George W. Bush and former President Barrack Obama both sent troops to the border in the past, and he questioned what the difference is between troops securing the border and troops building a barrier to secure the border.
    He also questioned if governors can ask the federal government to secure a broken border that’s allowing harm to be done to their states.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks to reporters in Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019,
a day after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other officials. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

1/28/2019 Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo defends Roger Stone by OAN Newsroom
Roger Stone speaks to members of the conservative group America First at the Marriott
in Boca Raton, Florida. (Michael Ares/Palm Beach Post/AP)
    A former Trump campaign adviser is coming to the defense of Roger Stone just days after he was indicted by the special counsel.
    During an interview Sunday night, Michael Caputo said he believes Stone will cooperate with Robert Mueller and tell the truth.    He added, he thinks the allegations against Stone are very thin and have nothing to do with Russia collusion.
    Caputo then doubled-down on Stone’s previous claims that he never discussed WikiLeaks with the president.
    “I’ve seen Roger has speculated that it could be Rick Gates, I suspect it could be any senior member of the leadership team there — there are four or five people at the top there, but Roger insists that it’s not Donald Trump, Donald Trump insists that it’s not him,” he explained.    “Roger has said over and over again that he’s never talked to the president of the United States, even during the campaign season, about WikiLeaks or Guccifer 2.0, and I’m going to go with Roger on that.”
    Stone said he will not rule out cooperating with Mueller.    He plans to plead not guilty to the multiple charges he’s facing, including lying to Congress.

1/28/2019 U.S.’ Mnuchin expects progress in ‘complicated’ China trade talks by David Lawder
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He attends the opening ceremony of the World
Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, China September 17, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday the United States expects significant progress this week in trade talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, but the two sides will be tackling “complicated issues,” including how to enforce any deal.
    The talks, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in Washington, will include a meeting between Liu and U.S. President Donald Trump and take place amid worsening tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
    The U.S. Justice Department on Monday unsealed indictments against China’s top telecommunications equipment maker, Huawei Technologies Co, accusing it of bank and wire fraud to evade Iran sanctions and conspiring to steal trade secrets from T-Mobile US Inc.
    China, meanwhile, formally challenged U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods in the World Trade Organization’s dispute settlement system, calling the duties a “blatant breach” of Washington’s WTO obligations.
    U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross insisted at a news conference that the Huawei indictments are “law enforcement actions and are wholly separate from our trade negotiations with China.”
    The Huawei indictment came as a Chinese delegation including Liu and Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen was already in Washington preparing for the talks, a person familiar with the discussions said.
    Mnuchin, speaking at a White House news conference, said the two sides were trying to tackle “complicated issues,” including a way to verify enforcement of China’s reform progress in any deal with Beijing.
    The Treasury chief, who will be among the top U.S. officials at the negotiating table, said Chinese officials had acknowledged the need for such a verification mechanism.
    “We want to make sure that when we get a deal, that deal will be enforced,” Mnuchin said.    “The details of how we do that are very complicated.    That needs to be negotiated.    But IP (intellectual property) protection, no more forced joint ventures, and enforcement are three of the most important issues on the agenda.”
    Reuters reported earlier this month that U.S. officials were demanding regular reviews of China’s progress on pledged trade reforms, which would maintain the threat of tariffs long term.
    Mnuchin added that there had been “significant movement” in the talks so far, and there will be around 30 days for further negotiations after the meetings in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday to reach an agreement before a March 2 deadline for increasing U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.
    Mounting concerns for both countries, including China’s slowing economy and Trump’s need for a political win, could prod both sides toward a “partial, interim deal,” said Eswar Prasad, a Cornell University trade professor and former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China department.
    “There remains a vast distance separating the negotiating positions of the two sides, making a comprehensive and durable deal unlikely,” Prasad said.
    China is unlikely to give much ground on industrial policy and state support for industries, but it could promise to improve intellectual property protections and enforcement.    However, persuading U.S. negotiators that these can be verified will be a “hard sell,” Prasad added.
    The White House said that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would lead the talks for the American side, with participation from Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow and White House trade and manufacturing adviser Peter Navarro.
    It said the meetings will take place in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, part of the White House complex.
(Reporting by David Lawder and Steve Holland; additional reporting by Chris Prentice, David Shepardson and Makini Brice; editing by James Dalgleish)

1/28/2019 Oil falls 3 percent on rising U.S. production, economic slowdown fears by Laila Kearney
FILE PHOTO: Crude oil storage tanks are seen from above at the Cushing oil hub,
in Cushing, Oklahoma, March 24, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo
    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil fell about 3 percent on Monday, its biggest one-day percentage drop in a month, after an increase in U.S. crude drilling pointed to further supply growth amid continuing concerns about a global economic slowdown.
    Brent crude oil futures sank $1.71, or 2.8 percent, to settle at $59.93 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude slumped $1.70, or 3.2 percent, to settle at $51.99 a barrel.
    The last time both crude benchmarks saw bigger daily percentage drops was on Dec. 27.
    “We’re seeing oil prices really start to break down here,” said Phillip Streible, senior market strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago.    “One of the factors that played (into prices) is the rising rig count that we saw on Friday.”
    U.S. drillers added 10 oil rigs last week, according to energy services firm Baker Hughes on Friday, in another sign of the expanding record U.S. crude production that has soured market sentiment.
GRAPHIC: U.S. oil production & drilling levels –
    The trade war between Washington and Beijing weighed on futures as investor optimism waned that the two sides would soon end the months-long tariff fight that has damaged China’s economy.
    That, coupled with uncertainty about how long the U.S. government will stay open after Washington agreed to end a historic shutdown, dampened investor optimism, said Gene McGillian, director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
    “I think both those factors seem to have sparked fears about slowing demand growth, which have been one of the main bearish drivers in the market for a while,” McGillian said.
    Crude futures remain on course for their strongest monthly gains in more than two years following production cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies this month.
    Brent has risen nearly 12 percent so far in January, which would be the largest monthly percentage increase since December 2016.    WTI has risen more than 13 percent this month, the biggest jump since April 2016, when it surged almost 20 percent.
    Investors have added to bets on a sustained rise in the oil price this month for the first time since September, according to data from the InterContinental Exchange.
    Much of the demand outlook hinges on China and whether its refiners will continue to import crude at 2018’s breakneck pace.
    Industrial companies in China reported a second monthly fall in earnings in December, despite the government’s efforts to support borrowing and investment.
(Additional reporting by Amanda Cooper in London, Henning Gloystein and Roslan Khasawneh in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Sonya Hepinstall)

1/28/2019 U.S. charges China’s Huawei with bank fraud, stealing trade secrets
FILE PHOTO: The Huawei logo is pictured outside their research facility in
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, December 6, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Monday charged China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, its chief financial officer and two affiliates with bank and wire fraud to violate sanctions against Iran in a case that has escalated tensions with Beijing.
    In a 13-count indictment filed in New York, the Justice Department said Huawei misled a global bank and U.S. authorities about its relationship with the subsidiaries, Skycom Tech and Huawei Device USA Inc, in order to conduct business in Iran.
    In a separate case, the Justice Department also accused two Huawei subsidiaries of 10 counts of stealing trade secrets, wire fraud and obstructing justice for allegedly stealing robotic technology from carrier T-Mobile US Inc to test smartphones’ durability.    Those charges were filed in the western district of Washington state.
    Huawei did not respond to requests for comments on the charges.
    T-Mobile had accused Huawei of stealing the technology, called “Tappy,” which mimicked human fingers and was used to test smartphones.    Huawei has said that the two companies settled their disputes in 2017.
    The charges in both cases add to U.S. pressure on Huawei, the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment maker.
    The Trump administration is trying to prevent American companies from buying Huawei routers and switches and pressing allies to do the same.    U.S. security experts are concerned that the equipment could be used to spy on the United States.
    At Washington’s request, Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada in December and is now fighting extradition to the United States.
    U.S. authorities accuse Meng of playing a lead role in the scheme to use subsidiaries to conduct business in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions against Tehran.
    Meng, who has denied the charges, is currently in Vancouver, staying in one of her family’s homes, as she awaits a decision from a Canadian court on the U.S. extradition request.
    The arrest of Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, ratcheted up tensions with China, which responded by arresting two Canadians on national security grounds.
    Ren denies his company’s products would be used by the Chinese government to spy.
    The charges announced on Monday come just days before U.S.-China trade talks are set to resume in Washington, although Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the two cases are “wholly separate” from the trade negotiations.
    FBI Director Christopher Wray said the cases “expose Huawei’s brazen and persistent actions to exploit American companies and financial institutions, and to threaten the free and fair global marketplace.”
    He said that he is concerned about Huawei devices in U.S. telecommunications networks.    “That kind of access could give a foreign government the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information, conduct undetected espionage, or exert pressure or control.”
(Reporting by Diane Bartz, David Shepardson, Sarah N. Lynch, Karen Freifeld, Chris Bing, Joseph Menn and Andy Sullivan; Editing by Bill Rigby and Lisa Shumaker)

1/29/2019 Oil down $1.70 to $51.99, DOW down 209 to 24,528

1/29/2019 Barr insists he wouldn’t fire Mueller by Bart Jansen and Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – William Barr, President Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, told the Senate on Monday he would resign rather than fire special counsel Robert Mueller “without good cause,” while also casting doubt on how much the public might learn about the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
    The answers in written replies to questions from senators echoed what Barr had told the Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing Jan. 15.    But they provided a more detailed response about Mueller’s anticipated final report on the investigation.
    The panel is set to vote Tuesday on Barr’s nomination, and the full Senate could vote as early as next week.
    Under Justice Department regulations, Mueller will submit a confidential report to the attorney general summarizing his decisions to charge or not charge figures in the probe.    The attorney general will then decide what – if anything – to make public.
    Mueller’s office has already revealed extensive detail about Russian’s efforts to sway the election.
[That will not stop Trump from firing Mueller if it turns out to be false charges and no collusion, and he has not found any clear evidence of collusion by Trump or former associates or he would have already busted them, except for the ones who have done their own crimes way before the 2016 election.]

1/29/2019 U.S. sanctions threaten Venezuela’s economy as Maduro eyes next move by Mayela Armas and Deisy Buitrago
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends a meeting with members of the Venezuelan diplomatic corp after their arrival
from the United States, at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela January 28, 2019. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS
    CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelans braced for the deepening of a brutal economic crisis on Tuesday after the United States imposed sanctions sharply curbing the country’s vital oil exports, while the socialist government responded by refusing to load crude cargoes without payment.
    The Trump administration hopes the sanctions, which bar state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela from collecting proceeds from crude sales to U.S. refineries, pressure President Nicolas Maduro to step down and allow opposition leader and self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido to call elections.
    In a defiant national broadcast on Monday night, Maduro said he would take legal action to challenge the sanctions and defend Citgo Petroleum Corp, PDVSA’s U.S. refining subsidiary, which he accused the United States of trying to steal.    He also pledged to retaliate, but did not announce any specific measures.
    “We will provide the reciprocal and convincing response needed to defend Venezuela’s interests in due time,” Maduro said.
    PDVSA responded to the sanctions by ordering customers with tankers waiting to load crude destined for the United States to prepay, according to three sources with knowledge of the decision.    Such prepayment could be in violation of the sanctions, setting the stage for a standoff at the ports.
    The loss of revenue from the United States, the No. 1 buyer of Venezuelan crude, was sure to further hamper the government’s ability to import basic goods like food and medicine, exacerbating a humanitarian crisis that has prompted more than 3 million people to flee the hyperinflation-stricken country in recent years.
    “If you do not find a place for that crude quickly, the room for maneuver will shrink and imports will be affected,” said Asdrubal Oliveros, director of Caracas-based consultancy Ecoanalitica.
    Guaido, who argues that Maduro usurped the presidency on taking office for a second six-year term on Jan. 10 following a May 2018 election considered fraudulent by the opposition, has said he is prepared to receive $20 million in humanitarian aid pledged by the United States.
    He also moved to set up new boards of directors for Citgo and PDVSA, which could allow his parallel government to collect money held in escrow accounts in the United States.
    But to truly control state functions, he would need the support of the military.    It has so far stood by Maduro, who has kept officers’ support in part by granting them control of key state institutions like PDVSA, although the company’s output has collapsed in just over a year of military rule.
    The sanctions threatened to hasten PDVSA’s unraveling.
    “There is total shock.    This company is already too beat-down,” a high-level manager said on Monday on condition of anonymity.
(Reporting by Mayela Armas and Deisy Buitrago; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Peter Cooney)

1/29/2019 Roger Stone pleads not guilty to all charges by OAN Newsroom
    Roger Stone pleaded not guilty to all charges at his court appearance in Washington, D.C.
    Stone arrived to cheers and jeers Tuesday as he arrived for his arraignment on charges, including obstruction, making false statements and witness tampering.
Former campaign adviser for President Donald Trump, Roger Stone arrives at Federal Court,
Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Stone’s court appearance came just days after FBI agents raided his Fort Lauderdale home and arrested him as part of Mueller’s Russia investigation.
    In an interview with Sky News Monday, Stone doubled-down on his pledge to not implicate the president for false crimes.
    “I am not willing to make up stories or bear false witness against anybody including the president,” he stated.    “The president has done nothing wrong, he certainly hasn’t colluded with Russia and therefore I am not going to make up false tales about him to ease the pressure on myself — that would be perjury.”
    Stone also reiterated that he has not discussed a possible pardon with President Trump.

1/29/2019 U.S. Intelligence officials says Russia may refine attempts to meddle in elections by OAN Newsroom
    U.S. intelligence chiefs are continuing to warn of possible Russian interference ahead of the 2020 elections.    On Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia would likely “refine” its attempts to use social media to influence U.S. elections.
    This comes after the intelligence community found Russian operatives successfully used platforms like Facebook and Twitter to run misinformation campaigns in the 2016 presidential election.
    The director of the National Security Agency — General Paul Nakasone — also spoke on the steps taken to protect U.S. democracy.
National Security Agency Director Gen. Paul Nakasone testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee
on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
    “They looked at an internal study with a number of social media groups, which is something, — as you know — is is outside our authorities, but was very, very effective for us,” stated General Nakasone.    “As we prepared for the 2018 midterm, we took a very very close look at the information that was provided there, we understood our adversary very well and we understood where their vulnerabilities also lie.”
    FBI officials said they are now working more closely with social media platforms to prevent similar “misinformation campaigns.”

1/29/2019 Federal judge delays Paul Manafort’s sentencing date until further notice by OAN Newsroom
    A federal judge in Virginia has reportedly canceled Paul Manafort’s’ sentencing hearing, which was set for February 8, 2019.
    Judge T.S. Ellis said the sentencing has been delayed until further notice due to a conflict over his cooperation with the special counsel.
FILE – In this Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, file photo, Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’
former campaign chairman, leaves Federal District Court, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
    Manafort was convicted of eight-counts of bank and tax fraud last year, but also pleaded guilty to undisclosed lobbying work in Washington, D.C.
    Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel as part of a plea deal, but Robert Mueller’s team alleged he knowingly misled them and committed new crimes by lying to prosecutors.
    The judge said the resolution of that case will affect his sentencing in the state.
[This judge was used before and had some issue in this case if you want to look it up on google and may be the reason of the delay.
Thomas Selby Ellis III, a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, appointed by Ronald Reagan.]

1/29/2019 Maduro regime asks for talks with President Trump amid mounting pressure by OAN Newsroom
    The foreign minister of Venezuela is urging talks between the Maduro regime and President Trump.
    In a statement Monday, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said the Maduro regime is ready to work with the U.S. to resolve the political crisis in Venezuela.    The official said his department has discussed ways to ease tensions with a U.S. envoy in the country.
    Arreaza said the Maduro regime wants to send a team of negotiators to Washington to establish what he called “relations of peace and respect.”
    “At this moment diplomacy in the United States is a little bit schizophrenic, but we want to believe in the reality because we want to believe in the authorized spokespeople and the mechanism of diplomacy that the United States is openly developing with the government of President Nicolas Maduro,” stated the Venezuelan foreign minister.
Venezuela’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza speaks during the United Nations Security Council at the U.N. Saturday,
Jan. 26, 2019, in New York. During the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo encouraged the council to recognize
Juan Guaido as the constitutional interim President of Venezuela. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
    Following the official’s remarks, the Treasury Department slapped an oil embargo against the Maduro regime.
    Vice President Mike Pence welcomed the new sanctions.    In a tweet Monday, Pence said the new sanctions are targeting the corruption of embattled President Nicolas Maduro and his affiliates.
    Pence tweet: “.@POTUS’ EO today ends Maduro’s ability to steal his country’s wealth for his own corrupt ends & preserves these resources for the Venezuelan people. We will continue to hold Maduro accountable for Venezuela’s ruin & oppression & we will always stand WITH the people of Venezuela.”
    This comes after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin ended all U.S. purchases of oil from PDVSA on Monday.
    Pence stressed the U.S. stands with the people of Venezuela to hold Maduro accountable for his crimes.

1/29/2019 Senate panel postpones vote on Attorney General nominee William Barr by OAN Newsroom
Attorney General nominee Bill Barr meets with Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in Kennedy’s office
on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Jan. 26, 2019. The Judiciary panel is set to vote on Barr’s nomination Tuesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    A Senate panel is postponing the confirmation vote for President Trump’s attorney general nominee — William Barr.
    The Senate Judiciary Committee was set to decide Tuesday on whether to send his nomination to the full Senate floor for a vote.
    However, at the last minute Democrats objected, citing concerns over his potential handling of the special counsel investigation.
    Many Democrat lawmakers on Capitol Hill are still worried about whether Barr would recuse himself from the Russia investigation among other topics of concern.

1/29/2019 U.S. to return first Central American asylum seekers to Mexico by Julia Love
A migrant man and woman, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America tying to reach the United States, carry their
belongings during the closing of the Barretal shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
    TIJUANA (Reuters) – The United States will send the first group of Central American asylum seekers back to Mexico on Tuesday, a U.S. official said, as part of a hardened immigration policy to keep migrants south of the border while their cases are processed in U.S. courts.
    Tuesday’s return of migrants was to be carried out under a policy dubbed the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Katie Waldman said.    Mexican officials had said on Friday that the transfers would happen that day.
    MPP was implemented “once the appropriate field guidance was issued,” Waldman said.
    A Mexican official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said the first group would be sent across on Tuesday.
    Under MPP, the United States will return non-Mexican migrants who cross the U.S. southern border back to Mexico while their asylum requests are processed in U.S. immigration courts.
    Asylum seekers have traditionally been granted the right to stay in the United States while their cases were decided by an immigration judge, but a backlog of more than 800,000 cases means the process can take years.
    U.S. authorities are expected to send as many as 20 people per day through the Mexican border city of Tijuana and gradually start sending people back through the other legal ports of entry, Mexico’s foreign ministry said on Friday.
    The U.S. policy is aimed at curbing the increasing number of families arriving mostly from Central America to request asylum who say they fear returning home because of threats of violence there.    The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump says many of the claims are not valid.
(Reporting by Julia Love in Tijuana, Yeganeh Torbati in New York and Dave Graham in Mexico City; Writing by Delphine Schrank and Anthony Esposito; editing by Grant McCool)

1/29/2019 Gloom lifts in Elysee as townhall debates re-energize Macron by Michel Rose
FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron attends a meeting with local residents as part of the
"Great National Debate" in Bourg-de-Peage near Valence, France, January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot/Pool/File Photo
    PARIS (Reuters) – At the peak of France’s “yellow vest” crisis, President Emmanuel Macron’s wife and close aides were shown the Elysee Palace’s nuclear-proof bunker in case the anti-government protesters attempted an assault on the presidency.
    The startling revelation by Journal du Dimanche, which the president’s office has not denied, shows just how anxious Macron’s inner circle were over the challenge to his authority, as he sought a way to quell popular anger.
    Six weeks on, Macron is back on the offensive and opinion polls point to a recovery in his battered popularity.
    Successful outings to a trio of townhall debates with local mayors and disenchanted voters have re-energized the president and lifted the gloom in his office.
    In Bourg-de-Peage in the southern Drome region, Macron turned up unannounced at a local debate, rolled up his shirt-sleeves, and for several hours explained his policies aimed at spurring growth and creating jobs.
    “This was the Emmanuel Macron I remembered, the spirit from the campaign was back,” one aide who worked with Macron during the 2016-2017 presidential campaign told Reuters.
    The yellow vests, named after high-visibility vests French drivers must keep in their cars, had thrown Macron onto the defensive late last year.    Their initial protests – against fuel tax hikes that Macron then scrapped – spiraled into a broader movement against the political elite and inequality, triggering some of the worst street violence in Paris in decades.
    Despite the recovery in his fortunes, Macron told reporters on a flight to Egypt on Sunday that he still felt like he was “walking on thin ice.”
    That same day, however, 10,000 pro-government supporters marched in the rain in a riposte to the yellow vest protests.
    It was a far cry from the million citizens who rallied in support of General Charles de Gaulle at a march that helped end the May 1968 uprising, but still a welcome sight for Macron supporters who had questioned whether he could bounce back.
    In another small victory for Macron, he appears for now to have changed the narrative coming out of France’s influential 24-hour news channels.
    BFM TV’s ticker, which Macron’s PR team obsesses over, went from “Macron pushed to the wall” in December to “Will Macron emerge from this victorious?” last weekend.
    Even Macron’s opponents acknowledge that he has performed well in the townhall sessions, part of a two-month long national debate Macron promises will influence policymaking, appearing self-assured and confident as the audiences grilled him.
    “In terms of form, the performance was a success,” Damien Abad, a lawmaker for the center-right Les Republicains party told Reuters.    “It was a rather beautiful moment.    But the French expect more than unanswered questions.”
    An Ifop poll last week showed Macron’s popularity up 4 points at 27 percent.    Surveys have also shown his party back ahead of the far-right in voting intentions for the May European Parliament elections.
    But there is no guarantee that trend will continue, and the yellow vest protests rumble on.    Some want to channel their energy into becoming a political force and aim to contest the May EU elections, though that decision has revealed deep splits within their amorphous movement.
    Macron, a former investment banker, has been told by advisers to avoid some of the cutting remarks that angered voters and made him look arrogant, but he is still prone to faux pas.
    Moreover, further tough reforms lie ahead.    Plans for stricter rules on unemployment benefits, a leaner public sector and a merging of varying pension plans into a single system could push voters back onto the streets.
    The polls suggest that Macron’s increasingly tough response to the violent street marches has reassured conservative voters unnerved by the scale of the unrest.
    “In my constituency, I’m told ‘we’re not always for your policies, but we want this whole saga to end’,” Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, a lawmaker in Macron’s La Republique En Marche, told Reuters.
    “The French don’t like chaos.    The grand debate is a smart way to get out of this through the front door.”
    Analysts warn, however, that Macron’s national debate also risks raising expectations.
    “Giving people a chance to speak is a big decision, and he’ll have to show that it served a purpose,” Ifop’s Frederic Dabi said.
(Additional reporting by Marine Pennetier, Elizabeth Pineau and Jean-Baptiste Vey; Editing by Richard Lough and Gareth Jones)

1/29/2019 France’s ‘yellow vests’ suffer early European election setback by Richard Lough
Protesters wearing yellow vests take part in a demonstration of the "yellow vests"
movement in Marseille, France, January 26, 2019. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
    PARIS (Reuters) – France’s “yellow vests” suffered the first setback to their ambitions to contest May’s European elections after one of 10 candidates and their campaign director quit following a barrage of attacks from within the divided protest movement.
    The withdrawals come less than a week after a small group within the movement announced its list in a move which exposed deep splits about whether and how to become a more organized political force.
    Campaign chief Hayk Shahinyan said elections could present an opportunity for the “yellow vests,” whose anti-government protests have challenged President Emmanuel Macron’s authority, provided the loose-knit movement prepared properly.
    But he expressed doubts over whether this was the case.
    “I have taken the decision to withdraw from my activities … and take a week to analyze, reflect and prepare my next steps,” Shahinyan wrote on Facebook.
    One opinion poll last week showed the “yellow vests” could prove a disruptive force in the European elections, stealing votes from the far-right and so inadvertently help Macron, whose liberal economic reforms triggered their original protests.
    But some activists have accused the candidates of betraying the movement.
    One, Marc Dunoyer told the Journal du Dimanche paper that he was quitting the candidate list because of death threats over his support for Macron during the 2017 presidential race, even if he was now “disappointed” by the former investment banker.
    The “yellow vests,” named after high-visibility vests French drivers must keep in their cars, began their protests in November against fuel taxes and the high cost of living.
    The movement quickly morphed into a broader rebellion against the political elite and inequality, leading to some of the worst violence seen on French streets in decades.
    But it is split along open faultlines: between radicals who want to oust Macron and moderates who back dialogue, and between those who wish it to remain a grassroots, apolitical movement and those who see an opportunity to break into politics.
(Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Catherine Evans)

1/29/2019 State Dept. warns Americans not to travel to Venezuela amid power dispute by OAN Newsroom
    The State Department is warning Americans not to travel to Venezuela, just one day after the Treasury Department announced additional sanctions on the country.    On Tuesday, the department raised its travel advisory for the country to a level four, and warned all Americans to cancel any travel plans.
    The department issued a statement, saying U.S. citizens should not travel to the South American country due to civil unrest and the arbitrary detention of Americans among other factors.    The department also said the U.S. government has limited ability to give emergency services to Americans in the country.
    This comes after the State Department ordered all non-essential personnel to leave the U.S. Embassy in Caracas last week.
The flight carrying the U.S. Embassy employees and their families takes off from
Simon Bolivar international airport in La Guaira, Venezuela, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
    Meanwhile, acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan is not ruling out sending U.S. troops to Colombia. In an interview Tuesday, Shanahan said the Pentagon is committed to adding pressure on the Maduro regime.
    He refused to say whether the Trump administration is planning a military deployment near Venezuela, and said he hasn’t discussed the matter with National Security Adviser John Bolton.
    “Obviously State and Treasury are taking significant number of steps to recognize the National Assembly and President Guaido — we are supporting, we’re monitoring the situation very carefully, and we’re watching, and we are working very much in real time,” stated the acting defense secretary.
    Shanahan also said the Pentagon would send several thousand more U.S. troops to the Mexico border to curb the ongoing influx of illegal immigrants.
FILE – In this Nov. 16, 2018, file photo, members of the U.S. military install multiple tiers of concertina wire along the banks
of the Rio Grande near the Juarez-Lincoln Bridge at the U.S.-Mexico border in Laredo, Texas. Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan
says the U.S. will be sending “several thousand” more American troops to the southern border to provide additional support to
Homeland Security. He says the troops will mainly be used to install additional wire barriers and provide increased surveillance of the area. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

1/30/2019 Dow down 52 to 24,580

1/30/2019 Hackers stole U.S. evidence in Russian internet firm case: special counsel by Sarah N. Lynch
FILE PHOTO: Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after briefing the
U.S. House Intelligence Committee on his investigation of potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign
on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office said on Wednesday that hackers in Russia last October stole evidence it had turned over confidentially to Russian firm Concord Management and Consulting LLC, which is being prosecuted over allegations of funding a propaganda campaign to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.
    In a court filing, prosecutors said some non-sensitive data was posted online in October by a Twitter account that took credit for stealing the information.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; editing by Grant McCool)
[Concord Management and Consulting is a member of the Concord company group, which is half owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin.    Based in St. Petersburg, Russia, it owns and operates several restaurants.    It is also the parent company of Concord Catering.
    The company was founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin in 1995, and listed as owner until 2009.    His mother, Violetta Prigozhin, has been the listed owner since 2011.
    "North Versailles" is a luxury housing development in the Lahti-Primorsky district of St. Petersburg built and managed by Concord Management and Consulting.    The development closed a section of Novaya Street to the public by erecting gates with armed guards.    This was controversial because city records showed the street as still a public right of way.
    Concord Management and Consulting owns 50% of LLC Megaline, who received most of the capital construction contracts for the Russian military in 2016 in what appears to have been a rigged bidding process.    Concord Management and Consulting's lawyers provided a package of amendments to the Ministry of Defense to change the laws in a way that would allow Megaline to bid for the contracts since it otherwise wasn't qualified.    The amendments were submitted to the Duma by the government on February 11, 2014, and adopted on April 16, 2014.
    On June 20, 2017, The United States Treasury Department added Concord Management and Consulting to the list of companies sanctioned for Russia's military interventions in Crimea and Ukraine.
    Dmitry Utkin, also under sanctions, became the CEO of Concord Management and Consulting on November 14, 2017, and he is the founder of Wagner Group a private military contractor.    He replaced Anastasia Sautina.
Indictment for interfering in the 2016 U.S. elections
    A February 2018 indictment by the United States Justice Department alleged that Concord Management and Consulting began operations in 2014 with the intention to financially support a group known as the Internet Research Agency which allegedly interfered with the 2016 United States Presidential election won by Donald J. Trump.
    An initial hearing was in May 2018.    On Friday, November 16, The Hill reported a U.S. Federal Judge upholding Robert Mueller's indictment.
    Hearings continued throughout the year and into 2019.
    Internet Research Agency is a Russian company, based in Saint Petersburg, engaged in online influence operations on behalf of Russian business and political interests.    IRA also known as Glavset and known in Russian Internet slang as the Trolls from Olgino, is a Russian company, based in Saint Petersburg, engaged in online influence operations on behalf of Russian business and political interests.
    The January 2017 report issued by the United States Intelligence Community – Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections – described the Agency as a troll farm writing: "The likely financier of the so-called Internet Research Agency of professional trolls located in Saint Petersburg is a close Putin ally with ties to Russian intelligence," noted that "they previously were devoted to supporting Russian actions in Ukraine—[and] started to advocate for President-elect Trump as early as December 2015."
    The agency has employed fake accounts registered on major social networking sites, discussion boards, online newspaper sites, and video hosting services to promote the Kremlin's interests in domestic and foreign policy including Ukraine and the Middle East as well as attempting to influence the 2016 United States presidential election.    More than 1,000 employees reportedly worked in a single building of the agency in 2015.
    The extent to which a Russian agency has tried to influence public opinion using social media became better known after a June 2014 BuzzFeed article greatly expanded on government documents published by hackers earlier that year.    The Internet Research Agency gained more attention by June 2015, when one of its offices was reported as having data from fake accounts used for biased Internet trolling.    Subsequently, there were news reports of individuals receiving monetary compensation for performing these tasks.
    On February 16, 2018, a United States grand jury indicted 13 Russian nationals and 3 Russian entities, including the Internet Research Agency, on charges of violating criminal laws with the intent to interfere "with U.S. elections and political processes," according to the Justice Department (my note that we now know was corrupt itself).
    The company was founded in mid-2013.    In 2013, Novaya Gazeta newspaper reported that Internet Research Agency Ltd's office was in Olgino, a historic district of Saint Petersburg.
    The terms "Trolls from Olgino" and "Olgino's trolls" have become general terms denoting trolls who spread pro-Russian propaganda, not only necessarily those based at the office in Olgino.
    On February 16, 2018, 13 individuals were indicted by the Washington, D.C. grand jury for alleged illegal interference in the 2016 presidential elections, during which they strongly supported the candidacy of Donald Trump, according to special counsel Robert Mueller's office.    IRA, Concord Management and Concord Catering were also indicted.    It was alleged that IRA was controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    The indicted individuals are Dzheykhun Nasimi Ogly Aslanov, Anna Vladislavovna Bogacheva, Maria Anatolyevna Bovda, Robert Sergeyevich Bovda, Mikhail Leonidovich Burchik, Mikhail Ivanovich Bystrov, Irina Viktorovna Kaverzina, Aleksandra Yuryevna Krylova, Vadim Vladimirovich Podkopaev, Sergey Pavlovich Polozov, Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin, Gleb Igorevitch Vasilchenko, and Vladimir Venkov.    None of the defendants is in custody.
    On March 15, President Trump imposed financial sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act on the 13 Russian and organizations indicted by Mueller, preventing them from entering the United States to answer the charges should they wish to.
    In October 2018 Russian accountant Elena Khusyaynova was charged with interfernce in the 2016 and 2018 US elections, alleged to have been working with the IRA.    She was said to have managed a $16 million budget.

1/30/2019 Trump admin. coordinates federal response to polar vortex gripping Midwest by OAN Newsroom
    The Trump administration is rushing to strengthen the electric grid in response to the polar vortex gripping much of the Midwest and East Coast.
    Energy Secretary Rick Perry met with top officials from his department on Tuesday to plan a federal response to the possibility of a major power outage.    The officials are unsure how long public utility companies can withstand the extended period of severe weather along with the strain of growing customer demand.
    Many utility companies are now turning to coal-powered energy during this year’s deep freeze, because it’s a cheaper alternative to natural gas.
Chicago’s lakefront is covered with ice on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. Temperatures are plummeting in
Chicago as officials warn against venturing out into the dangerously cold weather. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)
    This comes as the polar vortex continues to hit parts of the country with record breaking temperatures.    The cold has been blamed for at least six deaths across five states.
    75-percent of the continental U.S. is reportedly expected to dip below freezing at some point this week.    Official have warned the wind chill may reach temperatures around 70 below zero in some regions.    This would create conditions for frostbite and hypothermia.
    The polar vortex, which is high-level winds from the North Pole, is expected to last through the weekend.
Map explains the current polar vortex. (AP)

1/30/2019 Trump admin. sends proposal to Congress to bring U.S. into compliance with USMCA by OAN Newsroom
    Congress has received a “to do list” from the Trump administration to begin phasing out parts of NAFTA in favor of the new USMCA trade agreement.    U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer introduced the proposal on Tuesday, pushing Congress closer toward ratifying the agreement.
    The list includes tariff exemptions for Canada and Mexico, and changes to the “rules of origin” clause for importing vehicles and auto parts to encourage free and reciprocal trade.
    “But we lost 25% of our car business because of NAFTA. NAFTA was a disaster.    Now we have the USMCA.    It makes it very difficult for companies to, incentive wise, move to other countries, and we will be making billions and billions of dollars a year more money.” — President Donald Trump
    In the long run, the USMCA is expected to boost manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and give dairy farmers greater access to the heavily guarded Canadian market.
    The replacement NAFTA deal was signed by President Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on the sidelines of the G-20 summit last November.
President Donald Trump, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Neto, left,
participate in the USMCA signing ceremony, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
    “This new agreement will ensure a future of prosperity and innovation for Mexico, Canada, and the United States,” stated President Trump.    “I look forward to working with members of Congress and the USMCA partners, and I have to say, it’s been so well reviewed, I don’t expect to have very much of a problem.”
    However, if you fast forward several months, lawmakers have been hesitant to take it up for a vote.    Many Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are saying they want to see Mexico make a good faith effort on reforms first.
    In the upper chamber, Chairman Chuck Grassley of the Senate Finance Committee was also hesitant.    He said lawmakers will need to carefully consider the proposal and work out all the details before bringing it for a vote.

1/30/2019 Baltimore, Md. to stop prosecuting marijuana possession charges by OAN Newsroom
    Baltimore’s state attorney revealed her office will no longer be prosecuting individuals on marijuana possession charges.    Marilyn Mosby made the announcement at a briefing at the Center for Urban Families on Tuesday.
    “I’m announcing a monumental shift in public policy as it relates to marijuana possession in the city of Baltimore,” she stated.    “Effective immediately, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney Office will no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases regardless of weight and or criminal history.”
    However, Mosby went on to say her office will continue to prosecute distribution of marijuana cases as long as there remains evidence of intent to distribute.     “The shift in our policy on marijuana possession should in no way be misconstrued as us not understanding the magnitude of the drug crisis or taking it easy on drug dealers,” explained the state attorney.    “We will continue to prosecute individuals who are in possession of drugs with the intent to distribute, because we are fully committed to eradicate the scourge of drugs and the horror it enacts on far too many families.”
FILE – In this July 27, 2016 file photo, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, right, holds a news conference.
Mosby will no longer prosecute any marijuana possession cases, regardless of the quantity of the drug or an
individual’s prior criminal record, authorities announced Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)
    In the meantime, Mosby is requesting the courts cancel prior convictions in nearly 5,000 possession cases dating back to 2011.
    She is also working to refer anyone charged for the first time with felony possession with intent to distribute to a diversion program in an effort to reduce criminal records that could potentially limit an individual’s future employment, education and housing opportunities.
    Mosby has defended the decision by claiming possession charges have no effect on public safety and primarily only impact communities of color.
    “There is no public safety value in prosecuting marijuana possession,” she commented.    “Furthermore, there is no link between marijuana possession and violent crime as is illustrated by more than half of the states across the nation that have now legalized marijuana in some form, and yet, violent crime has not risen.”
    While many lawmakers are optimistic for the decision, Baltimore’s police commissioner reaffirmed arrests for illegal marijuana possession will still continue as marijuana remains illegal in Maryland.

1/30/2019 Dept. of Homeland Security sends first Central American asylum seeker to wait in Mexico by OAN Newsroom
    The Trump administration is beginning to enforce its new policy of returning Central American asylum seekers to Mexico.
    Immigration officials reportedly sent the first migrant — a man from Honduras — back to Tijuana, Mexico to wait for the duration of his asylum proceedings.    According to officials, some 20 migrants per day will be returned to Mexico after filing their asylum cases in the U.S.
    The Department of Homeland Security said the new policy aims to discourage invalid asylum claims.
FILE – In this Jan. 3, 2019, file photo, a migrant from Honduras pass a child to her father after he jumped the
border fence to get into the U.S. side to San Diego, Calif., from Tijuana, Mexico. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza, File)
    Meanwhile, many migrants are considering accepting asylum offers and work permits from Mexico to remain in that country.
    “Asylum seekers are being returned to Mexico, or to their countries like Guatemala or Honduras.    My advice would be for them to wait. If we get work, we can work here in Mexico.    Just like on the other side, we can work here. Whoever wants to work can work wherever, not just in the United States.” — Juan Pablo Garcia, Honduran migrant
    Mexican authorities said they would accept all migrants except unaccompanied children and those who have health problems or would be in danger in Mexico.

1/30/2019 Ocasio-Cortez at risk of primary challenge by OAN Newsroom
    Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez may be in the crosshairs of her own party as the 2020 election cycle heats up.
    According to a report by the Hill, some House Democrats are looking to produce a primary challenger to take on the first-term New York lawmaker.
    The self-proclaimed Democrat-socialist unseated a well established Democrat in a shocking primary upset last year.    She’s now accused of working with a group to recruit progressives to run against Democrat-incumbents, which is angering some of her colleagues.
    While Ocasio-Cortez has denied the claims, she did appear in video promoting the group’s program.
    “Everybody knows someone in their life that is already an amazing public servant — nominate that amazing public servant to take their service to the halls of Congress,” she encouraged.    “Give them that nudge — my brother did it for me, and he got me into this whole mess, so now everyone else needs to come along.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., arrives at the Senate chamber as House Democrats, many of them freshmen, urged
action to end the partial government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez@AOC “Ocasio-Cortez shot down the report on Twitter, saying the alleged comments show how some members of Congress are out of touch.    You've got councilpeople who've been waiting 20 yrs for that seat.”
    "That broken mentality, that public office is something you wait in line for, instead of earning through hard organizing, is exactly what voters want to change.
    Shows you how disconnected some folks here are
    While the lawmaker hasn’t attracted a primary challenger, her spokesman said she wouldn’t complain if she did.

1/30/2019 Sen. McConnell on Mueller report, says DOJ should release as much of final report as possible by OAN Newsroom
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is giving his approval for the special counsel to release its final report publicly.
    While speaking to the media Tuesday, McConnell said the attorney general should release as much of the report as possible to ensure transparency.
    “Obviously, I would like for as much as possible of the Mueller report to be open,” he stated.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters at the Capitol
in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    This comes after a bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate on Monday, which would force the special counsel to release a report to Congress when the probe ends or if Mueller is removed from the investigation.
    After a review, an unclassified version would then be released to the public.
    Attorney General nominee William Barr has already signaled he plans to be as transparent as possible when he receives the report.

1/30/2019 Eric Trump: I want president to declare national emergency by OAN Newsroom
    Eric Trump is throwing his support behind the possibility of the president declaring a national emergency to build a border wall.
    During an interview Tuesday, Eric said he wanted President Trump to move forward with this plan because “it’s what the American people want.”
FILE – In this Jan. 17, 2018 file photo, Eric Trump appears on a television program, in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
    Although the government is reopened, the president has not ruled it out as an option.
    “We’re going to work with the Democrats, we’re going to see, and if we can’t do that then we’ll do — obviously we’re going to do the emergency, because that’s what it is, it’s a national emergency,” stated President Trump.
    The president has suggested this is a last resort option if lawmakers don’t.

1/30/2019 EU negotiator and Council chief tell Britain’s May: No to renegotiation by Guy Faulconbridge and Gabriela Baczynska
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May looks up during PMQ session in Parliament,
in London, Britain, January 30, 2019. UK Parliament/Mark Duffy/Handout via REUTERS
    LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator told Britain on Wednesday that time was too short to find an alternative to the Irish border arrangement agreed in their divorce deal, as London wants, and that this deal was not open for renegotiation.
    With only two months left before Britain is due by law to leave the European Union, a narrow majority in the British parliament instructed May on Tuesday to go back to Brussels to revise what is arguably the most intractable part of the deal.
    Michel Barnier told France’s RTL radio that the two-year divorce negotiations had looked for an alternative to the “Irish backstop,” designed to ensure that the border between EU member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland, long a scene of sectarian violence, remains free of border posts.
    “No one, on either side, was able to say what arrangement would be needed to ensure controls on goods, animals and merchandise without having a border,” Barnier said.    “We have neither the time, nor the technologies.”
    The 11th-hour uncertainty leaves Britain’s investors and allies trying to gauge whether the crisis will end up in a deal, a chaotic ‘no-deal’ Brexit on March 29, a delay, or no Brexit at all.
    In essence, May will use the implicit threat of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit to seek a deal from the other 27 members of the EU, whose combined economy is about six times the size of Britain’s.
    But the European response has been united, and blunt.
    “The Withdrawal Agreement is not open for renegotiation,” European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted in what he said was a message to May.    “Yesterday, we found out what the UK doesn’t want.    But we still don’t know what the UK does want.”
    Simon Coveney, foreign minister of Ireland, whose economy stands to suffer most from a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, said Britain had not offered any feasible way to keep the border open:
    “What we are being asked to do here is to compromise on a solution that works, and to replace it with wishful thinking.”
    And Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told May by phone that “the latest developments had reinforced the need for a backstop which is legally robust and workable in practice,” an Irish government spokesman said.
    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the chances of a ‘no-deal’ exit had increased, and currency traders also took that view as sterling traded around $1.3070, more than a cent down from its level before lawmakers voted on Tuesday.    EU sources said additional clarifications, statements or assurances on the backstop might be possible, short of reopening the agreement.
    But May says she needs more — a legally binding change.    She aims to get parliament’s approval for a revised deal on Feb. 13.    If that fails, parliament will vote on next steps on Feb. 14.
    That deadline ratchets up the pressure on dedicated Brexiteers in the Conservative Party who fear opponents will try to delay and ultimately thwart Britain’s exit.
    Both May’s Conservatives and the main opposition Labour Party are formally committed to carrying out Brexit, but internally divided over how or even whether to do so.
    Brexiteers accept there is likely to be some short-term economic pain but say Britain will thrive in the long term if cut loose from European rules.    Pro-Europeans say Britain’s exit will make it poorer, reduce its global clout, undermine London’s position as a global financial capital and weaken the West.
    Britain voted 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the EU in a 2016 referendum.    Brexit supporters say it would betray democracy to fail to act on that mandate.    Opponents say voters may have changed their minds now that the details are becoming clearer.
    Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who favors a much closer relationship with the EU, built around a customs union, met May to discuss Brexit.
    “Jeremy made the case for our alternative plan,” the spokesperson said, adding that the tone had been “serious and engaged” and that the two had agreed to meet again.
    If May cannot get a deal agreed, the default option would be to exit the EU abruptly with no deal at all, which businesses say would cause chaos and disrupt supply chains for basic goods.
    “This will hit Britain harder than others,” German Economy Ministry Peter Altmaier said.    “The coming days must be used to finally prevent a hard Brexit.”
    British lawmakers on Tuesday also approved a proposal urging the government to prevent a no-deal exit, sending a signal that a majority opposes it.    However, they rejected two amendments that set out a clear path for parliament to prevent it.
    Many company chiefs are aghast at London’s handling of Brexit and say it has already damaged Britain’s reputation as Europe’s pre-eminent destination for foreign investment.
    The investment bank Goldman Sachs raised its probability of a no-deal Brexit to 15 percent from 10 percent, kept its probability of a delayed Brexit at 50 percent, and revised down its probability of no Brexit to 35 percent from 40 percent.
(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Additional reporting by Kate Holton and Elizabeth Piper in London; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

1/30/2019 Trump phones Venezuela’s Guaido as U.S. pushes for Maduro to go by Vivian Sequera and Andrew Osborn
FILE PHOTO: A supporter of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds a banner depicting him as he takes part in
a gathering outside the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela January 26, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo
    CARACAS/MOSCOW (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump spoke to Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president by phone on Wednesday, reiterating support for his “fight to regain democracy,” as Washington’s push to force socialist President Nicolas Maduro from power picked up steam.
    The White House said Trump and Juan Guaido, the opposition leader trying to replace Maduro, agreed to maintain regular communication after Venezuelan authorities opened an investigation that could lead to Guaido’s arrest.
    The moves against Guaido, 35, including a travel ban and assets freeze, were in retaliation for oil sanctions imposed by the United States this week.    They intensified the fight to control Venezuela, an OPEC nation that has the world’s largest oil reserves.
    The U.S. president spoke to Guaido to “congratulate him on his historic assumption of the presidency and to reinforce President Trump’s strong support for Venezuela’s fight to regain its democracy,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
    Guaido thanked Trump for the U.S. commitment to freedom and prosperity in Venezuela and the region and noted the importance of planned protests across the country against Maduro on Wednesday and Saturday, she said in a statement.
    “They agreed to maintain regular communication to support Venezuela’s path back to stability, and to rebuild the bilateral relationship between the United States and Venezuela,” Sanders said.
    Maduro, 56, accused Trump of ordering his assassination, while his main global backer Russia called on Wednesday for mediation in a standoff that is splitting foreign powers.
    Maduro, facing the biggest challenge to his rule since replacing Hugo Chavez six years ago, said Trump had ordered neighboring Colombia to murder him.
    “Donald Trump has without doubt given an order to kill me and has told the government of Colombia and the Colombian mafia to kill me,” Maduro said in an interview with Moscow’s RIA news agency, reprising an accusation that he and Chavez have often made over the years.
    Bogota and Washington have routinely denied that, while foes say Maduro uses such accusations as a smokescreen when in trouble.
    However, speculation about military action against him was fueled this week when Trump national security adviser John Bolton carried a notepad with the words “5,000 troops to Colombia.”    U.S. Major General Mark Stammer, the commander of U.S. Army South, was in Colombia on Wednesday, U.S. embassy officials said.
    Russia, which like China has loaned and invested billions of dollars in OPEC member Venezuela, called on Guaido to drop his demand for a snap election and instead accept mediation.
    However, given the failure of previous rounds of dialogue between the government and opposition, including one led by the Vatican, opponents are suspicious, believing Maduro uses them to quell protests and buy time.
    Venezuela’s Supreme Court imposed the travel ban on Guaido and froze his bank accounts in apparent retaliation for the U.S. oil sanctions, which are expected to deliver another blow to an already collapsing economy.    Some 3 million Venezuelans have left the country amid food shortages and hyperinflation.
    In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump warned U.S. citizens against traveling to Venezuela, given the unrest.
    The United States is Venezuela’s largest crude importer, ahead of India and China, but the new measures limit transactions between U.S. companies and state oil company PDVSA.
    Oil prices rose nearly 3 percent on Wednesday, boosted by U.S. government data that showed signs of tightening supply, as investors remained concerned about supply disruptions because of Venezuela.
    Guaido, an opposition lawmaker who is president of the National Assembly, has been recognized as president by the United States and most Western Hemisphere nations.    He says Maduro fraudulently won elections last year and is offering an amnesty to military officials.
    Maduro, who took office for his second term this month and who accuses Guaido of staging a U.S.-directed coup against him, still has the support of senior military officers. He is unlikely to back down unless that changes.
    In the RIA interview, Maduro reiterated he was ready for talks with the opposition, but rejected as blackmail calls for a snap election.
    “I won legitimately,” he said of last year’s election.    “If the imperialists want a new election, let them wait until 2025.”
    Maduro also expressed “pleasure and gratitude” for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s help.
    Sources have told Reuters private military contractors who do secret missions for Moscow were in Venezuela.
    Guaido called for protests on Wednesday and a mass march at the weekend. More than 40 people have died so far in and around the protests that began a week ago, the U.N. human rights office said.    Hundreds have also been arrested, including children.
    Government supporters have also attended large rallies led by Maduro allies, while the president visited military bases in recent days.    He ordered the creation of 50,000 popular defense units, community groups charged with the “integral defense of the fatherland.”
    Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek Saab sought a preliminary investigation of Guaido on the basis that he helped foreign interference in Venezuela.    Announcing the moves against Guaido, Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno, a major Maduro ally, said the measures were to “protect the integrity of the country.”
(Reporting by Vivian Sequera; Additional reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Maria Kiselyova in Moscow; Susan Heavey, Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton in Washington; Karin Strohecker and Noah Browning in London; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne and Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Alison Williams, Andrew Heavens and Frances Kerry)

1/30/2019 Exclusive: UAE used cyber super-weapon to spy on iPhones of foes by Joel Schectman and Christopher Bing
FILE PHOTO: Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman of Yemen looks on during a news conference
against mining in the town of Casillas, Guatemala, October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A team of former U.S. government intelligence operatives working for the United Arab Emirates hacked into the iPhones of activists, diplomats and rival foreign leaders with the help of a >b>sophisticated spying tool called Karma, in a campaign that shows how potent cyber-weapons are proliferating beyond the world’s superpowers and into the hands of smaller nations.
    The cyber tool allowed the small Gulf country to monitor hundreds of targets beginning in 2016, from the Emir of Qatar and a senior Turkish official to a Nobel Peace laureate human-rights activist in Yemen, according to five former operatives and program documents reviewed by Reuters.    The sources interviewed by Reuters were not Emirati citizens.
    Karma was used by an offensive cyber operations unit in Abu Dhabi comprised of Emirati security officials and former American intelligence operatives working as contractors for the UAE’s intelligence services.    The existence of Karma and of the hacking unit, code named Project Raven, haven’t been previously reported.    Raven’s activities are detailed in a separate story published by Reuters today.
    The ex-Raven operatives described Karma as a tool that could remotely grant access to iPhones simply by uploading phone numbers or email accounts into an automated targeting system.    The tool has limits — it doesn’t work on Android devices and doesn’t intercept phone calls.    But it was unusually potent because, unlike many exploits, Karma did not require a target to click on a link sent to an iPhone, they said.
    In 2016 and 2017, Karma was used to obtain photos, emails, text messages and location information from targets’ iPhones.    The technique also helped the hackers harvest saved passwords, which could be used for other intrusions.
    It isn’t clear whether the Karma hack remains in use.    The former operatives said that by the end of 2017, security updates to Apple Inc’s iPhone software had made Karma far less effective.
    Lori Stroud, a former Raven operative who also previously worked at the U.S. National Security Agency, told Reuters of the excitement when Karma was introduced in 2016.    “It was like, ‘We have this great new exploit that we just bought.    Get us a huge list of targets that have iPhones now,’It was like Christmas.”
    The disclosure of Karma and the Raven unit comes amid an escalating cyber arms race, with rivals such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE competing for the most sophisticated hacking tools and personnel.
    Tools like Karma, which can exploit hundreds of iPhones simultaneously, capturing their location data, photos and messages, are particularly sought-after, veterans of cyberwarfare say.    Only about 10 nations, such as Russia, China and the United States and its closest allies, are thought to be capable of developing such weapons, said Michael Daniel, a former White House cyber security czar under President Obama.
    Karma and similar tools make personal devices like iPhones the “juiciest of targets,” said Patrick Wardle, a former National Security Agency researcher and Apple security expert.
    A spokeswoman for UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment.
    Apple Inc declined to comment.
    The former Raven insiders said Karma allowed the operatives to gather evidence on scores of targets — from activists critical of the government to regional rivals, including Qatar, and the UAE’s ideological opponent, the Islamic political Muslim Brotherhood movement.
    It also granted them access to compromising and at times sexually explicit photos of targets.    The material was described to Reuters in detail but reporters didn’t inspect it.    Reuters saw no evidence that the UAE leaked damaging materials discovered through Karma.
    Raven was largely staffed by U.S. intelligence community veterans, who were paid through an Emirati cyber security firm named DarkMatter, according to documents reviewed by Reuters.    The company did not respond to numerous emails and phone calls requesting comment.    The NSA declined to comment on Project Raven.
    The UAE government purchased Karma from a vendor outside the country, the operatives said.    Reuters could not determine the tool’s creator.
    The operatives knew how to use Karma, feeding it new targets daily, in a system requiring almost no input after an operative set its target.    But the users did not fully understand the technical details of how the tool managed to exploit Apple vulnerabilities.    People familiar with the art of cyber espionage said this isn’t unusual in a major signals intelligence agency, where operators are kept in the dark about most of what the engineers know of a weapon’s inner workings
    Three former operatives said they understood Karma to rely, at least in part, on a flaw in Apple’s messaging system, iMessage.    They said the flaw allowed for the implantation of malware on the phone through iMessage, even if the phone’s owner didn’t use the iMessage program, enabling the hackers to establish a connection with the device.
    To initiate the compromise, Karma needed only to send the target a text message — the hack then required no action on the part of the recipient.    The operatives could not determine how the vulnerability worked.
    A person with direct knowledge of the deal confirmed Karma’s sale to the Emiratis from an outside vendor, details of its capabilities and its reliance on an iMessage vulnerability.
    The Raven team successfully hacked into the accounts of hundreds of prominent Middle East political figures and activists across the region and, in some cases, Europe, according to former Raven operatives and program documents.
    In 2017, for instance, the operatives used Karma to hack an iPhone used by Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, as well as the devices of Turkey’s former Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, and Oman’s head of foreign affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah.    It isn’t clear what material was taken from their devices.
    Simsek, who stepped down from his position in July, told Reuters the cyber intrusion on his phone was “appalling and very disturbing.”    The Washington embassies of Qatar, Oman and Turkey did not respond to multiple emails and calls requesting comment about the targeting of political figures in their countries.
    Raven also hacked Tawakkol Karman, a human rights activist known as the Iron Woman of Yemen.    Informed by Reuters she had been targeted, she said she believes she was chosen because of her leadership in Yemen’s Arab Spring protests, which erupted around the region in 2011 and led to the ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
    For years she had received repeated notifications from social media accounts, warning that she had been hacked, she told Reuters.    But the fact that Americans helped the Emirati government monitor her was shocking, she said.
    Americans are “expected to support the protection of human rights defenders and provide them with all protection and security means and tools,” she said, “not to be a tool in the hands of tyrannies to spy on the activists and to enable them to oppress their peoples.”
(By Joel Schectman and Christopher Bing in Washington. Editing by Ronnie Greene, Jonathan Weber and Michael Williams)

1/30/2019 U.S.-approved trustee for Russia’s Deripaska has worked with him for years by Polina Ivanova, Polina Devitt and Nathan Layne
Russian aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska arrives for the talks of Russian President Vladimir Putin with
South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
    MOSCOW/NEW YORK (Reuters) – A law firm appointed to act as a buffer between Russian metals magnate Oleg Deripaska and one of his businesses, under a deal that allowed Washington to lift sanctions on the firm, has worked closely with Deripaska for years.
    Asked about the law firm, the U.S. Treasury Department said it would vigorously monitor arrangements to ensure Deripaska cannot influence board members of the businesses.    A representative for Deripaska said there was no scope for the businessman to influence how the law firm acted.
    But a senior U.S. senator said the connection between Deripaska and the law firm further bolstered the argument, being made by U.S. President Donald Trump’s Democratic opponents, that the sanctions should not have been lifted.
    The U.S. Treasury Department agreed to lift sanctions on three businesses controlled by Deripaska on condition that the tycoon – who will still be under sanctions himself – reduces his ownership in the businesses and severs his control.
    As part of the deal, some of Deripaska’s voting rights as a shareholder in his main company, En+, were handed over to a “voting trust obligated to vote in the same manner as the majority of shares held by shareholders other than Deripaska,” according to the Treasury Department.
    On Monday, announcing names of this and other trustees, En+ said that one of the trustees exercising the voting rights was called “Ogier Global Nominee (Jersey) Limited.”
    A source close to En+, when asked about the nature of the trustee, said Ogier Global was “a very respectable Jersey law firm.”
    Jersey-based Ogier Global has handled multiple deals involving Deripaska’s firms.
    Ogier’s Cayman office represented Deripaska in a 2014 case against equity fund Pericles Emerging Market Partners, court documents showed.    Pericles was run by Paul Manafort, who was briefly campaign chairman for Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
    Ogier also acted on behalf of aluminum giant Rusal, which is controlled by En+, in 2017 when it placed the first “Panda Bond” offering by a Russian company, the name given to overseas debt sold in the Chinese market, Ogier said in a statement at the time.
    “Rusal is a long-standing client and we are particularly pleased to have worked with them again,” a partner in Ogier’s Jersey office was cited by the law firm as saying at the time.
    One of its Jersey lawyers “has worked on several headline deals including the $1.5 billion IPO of En+ Group,” Ogier’s website said.
    Like Ogier, Rusal is registered in Jersey. As of Jan. 28, its registered address was the same as that of the Ogier law firm: Ogier House, 44 Esplanade, St. Helier, Jersey.
    According to the Jersey Financial Services Registry, Ogier Global Nominee (Jersey) Limited is at that address, as is Ogier Global, and Ogier Global is listed as providing an office for Ogier Global Nominee.
    Deripaska’s representative told Reuters the deal left the businessman with no opportunity to influence Ogier and that the trustees have been vetted by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which administers U.S. sanctions.
    Ogier has, in any case, no discretion on how to exercise the voting rights because it must vote in line with the majority of shares other than those held by Deripaska, the representative said.
    En+ declined to comment.    Ogier did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
    A Treasury spokesperson said OFAC has and will continue to ensure that the companies covered by the deal take the necessary steps to ensure that Deripaska doesn’t have influence or control over board members.
    “As we’ve made clear from the beginning, OFAC will vigorously monitor and ensure compliance with all the requirements” of the deal reached between OFAC and the Deripaska businesses, the spokesperson said.
    U.S. congressional Democrats have kept up the pressure on the Trump administration over the decision to lift the sanctions, this week demanding additional briefings and floating the idea of legislation to make sure Rusal and En+ are in compliance.
    Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been among the most vocal critics of the deal.
    “My concern all along was that Deripaska would, directly or indirectly, still retain control over his companies and benefit personally from this deal,” Warner said in response to a question from Reuters about Ogier’s role as trustee.
    “Potential conflicts of interest in the new governance structure are another data point demonstrating that the Senate should have overruled the Trump administration and kept the sanctions in place when we had the opportunity,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Clara Denina in LONDON; Editing by Giles Elgood)

1/31/2019 House OKs 2.6% raise for workers by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – The Democratic controlled House on Wednesday approved a pay raise for civilian federal employees, a step that lawmakers said shows respect for a workforce that just endured a 35-day partial government shutdown.
    The 2.6 percent raise matches the raise given to the military last year and would override a pay freeze imposed by President Donald Trump.    The measure, passed by a 259-161 vote, goes to the Senate, where its prospects are unclear.
    Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., whose district includes more than 55,000 federal workers, said government employees “have dedicated their lives and careers” to public service, “yet far too often their sacrifice and dedication go unappreciated.”
    Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said the proposed pay raise was “not good policy” because “it rewards the bad along with the good” by giving all workers a raise regardless of performance reviews.    Meadows and other Republicans also took issue with how quickly the plan passed the House.    It was introduced last week and was not subject to a committee vote.

1/31/2019 Don’t deal in Venezuelan gold, White House says, in anti-Maduro push by Shaylim Castro and Jeff Mason
FILE PHOTO: A supporter of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds a banner depicting him as he takes part
in a gathering outside the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela January 26, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo
    CARACAS/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House warned traders on Wednesday not to deal in Venezuelan gold or oil following its imposition of stiff sanctions aimed at forcing socialist President Nicolas Maduro from power.
    National security adviser John Bolton tweeted that traders should not deal in gold, oil or other commodities “being stolen” from the Venezuelan people, as opponents of Maduro’s government worried the government was surreptitiously moving to ship gold reserves abroad.
    The White House said President Donald Trump spoke to Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaido, by phone on Wednesday, reiterating support for his “fight to regain democracy.”
    On one side of the tussle for control of Venezuela – an OPEC member with the world’s largest oil reserves but in dire financial straits – Guaido and Western backers led by the United States are insisting on an immediate transition and fresh elections.
    On the other, Maduro, with backing from Russia, China and Turkey, says he will remain for his second six-year term despite accusations of fraud in his re-election last year and the economic meltdown.
    Venezuela’s struggle to pay its debts even to allies Russia and China amid a sharp drop in oil output has been exacerbated by the new sanctions, which will make it very hard to sell oil to its main client, the United States.
    In that context, the arrival in Caracas of a Boeing 777 plane from Moscow on Monday led to speculation that Maduro’s government was preparing to ship more gold reserves out of the country, following shipments of $900 million of gold to Turkey last year.    That was part of a strategy to increase the central bank’s liquidity.
    The flight, operated by Russia’s Nordwind Airlines, left Venezuela at 4:52 p.m., a Reuters witness said. Another Russian-operated flight, a Boeing 757 cargo plane, arrived at the airport an hour earlier via Cape Verde, according to publicly available flight data.    There are no routine flights between the two countries.
    Venezuelan lawmaker Jose Guerra, a former central bank economist, told the opposition-run National Assembly his understanding was that the Nordwind plane would take some gold reserves to Russia.
    However, a source with knowledge of the movements said that despite the rumors, gold was not due to leave on either of the Russian planes.    The bank did not respond to a request for comment.
    Sources told Reuters that private military contractors who do secret missions for Moscow were in Venezuela last week.
    The recently appointed U.S. envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, said Washington was looking around the world for more assets of the Maduro government, including gold holdings and bank accounts.
    The Kremlin said this week it expected Venezuela to pay its debts.    Russia, which like China has loaned and invested billions of dollars to Venezuela, called on Guaido to drop his demand for a snap election and instead accept mediation.
    But given the failure of previous rounds of dialogue between the government and opposition, including one led by the Vatican, opponents are suspicious, believing Maduro uses them to quell protests and buy time.
    Guaido’s envoy to the United States, Carlos Vecchio, said the only dialogue they were interested in would be a negotiation for Maduro’s departure and new elections.    Government officials insist the next presidential election will be in 2025.
    Responding to a call by Guaido, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in cities across Venezuela on Wednesday, some waving Venezuelan flags while drivers of cars and buses honked in support.
    “I want this government to go, it has been a total humiliation for the country,” said Lucy Cordoba, 51, a government worker in the poor hillside town of Petare at the edge of Caracas, the capital, where she said trash had not been collected for a year and water was scarce.
    Cordoba said her children were among the more than 3 million Venezuelans who have left the country in the past couple of years. One went to Peru and another to the Dominican Republic.
    More than 40 people have died so far in and around the protests that began a week ago, the U.N. human rights office said. Hundreds have also been arrested, including children.
    White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump and Guaido agreed to maintain regular communication after Venezuelan authorities opened an investigation that could lead to Guaido’s arrest. Abrams said action against Guaido would be “foolish.”
    Oil prices rose nearly 3 percent on Wednesday, as investors remained concerned about supply disruptions.
    Bolton, the national security adviser, said he had a “very productive meeting” on Wednesday with the executive team of Citgo, the U.S.-based refining business of Venezuela’s state-owned oil firm PDVSA, two days after Washington slapped sanctions on PDVSA.
    Wills Rangel, a board member of PDVSA, told Reuters the company was having problems unloading fuel imports because the sanctions were complicating payments.
    Maduro, 56, says Guaido is staging a U.S.-directed coup against him.    Maduro is not expected to stand down while he has the backing of senior military officers and has made daily visits to troops.
    “Do you want to be a coward?” Maduro yelled in a call and response session with hundreds of soldiers on Wednesday.    “No, president,” they shouted back.
(Reporting by Shaylim Castro in Caracas and Jeff Mason in Washington; Additional reporting by Vivian Sequera in Caracas, Andrew Osborn, Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Maria Kiselyova in Moscow; Susan Heavey, Roberta Rampton and Lesley Wroughton in Washington; Karin Strohecker and Noah Browning in London; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne and Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Frances Kerry, Rosalba O’Brien and Leslie Adler)

1/31/2019 Purported hackers stole U.S. evidence to discredit Mueller probe: filing by Sarah N. Lynch
FILE PHOTO: Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after briefing the U.S. House Intelligence Committee
on his investigation of potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on
Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office said on Wednesday that self-proclaimed hackers in Russia stole evidence in an attempt to tarnish its investigation of a firm charged with funding a Russian propaganda campaign to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.
    Prosecutors said in a court filing in Washington that a Twitter handle called @HackingRedstone came online last Oct. 22 to brag it had hacked some of the evidence in the case.
    “We’ve got access to the Special Counsel Mueller’s probe database as we hacked Russian server with info from the Russian troll case,” the court document quoted the Twitter post as saying.
    In February 2018, Mueller indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies with allegations of tampering in 2016 to support then-Republican candidate Donald Trump.    In all, 34 people have pleaded guilty, been indicted or otherwise swept up in the broader inquiry.
    The companies named in the indictment included the Internet Research Agency (IRA), known for its “trolling” on social media, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, which is said to have provided financial backing for the operation, and Concord Catering.
    The Twitter account linked to an online file sharing portal which it said contained Mueller’s documents about the “IRA and Russian collusion.”    “Enjoy the reading!” it added.
    The data that appeared online was “altered and disseminated as part of a disinformation campaign aimed (apparently) at discrediting ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. political system,” prosecutors wrote.
    On the same day, a journalist contacted Mueller’s office to report receiving a Twitter message from someone who said they had hacked a Russian legal firm that had received the evidence from Concord’s U.S. based law firm Reed Smith LLP.
    The illicit activity outlined by prosecutors illustrates the concerns of U.S. intelligence officials about continuing efforts by Russia to interfere in U.S. politics.
    The FBI has found no evidence that U.S. servers were compromised, and the IP address of the account used to publish the materials originated in Russia, prosecutors said.
    Concord Management is being prosecuted in Mueller’s investigation of U.S. allegations that Moscow meddled in the American democratic process to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
    Mueller is also investigating whether there was any coordination between members of the Trump campaign and Moscow officials.    The Kremlin denies election interference and President Trump denies there was any collusion, calling the inquiry a political witch hunt.
    Wednesday’s filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is the latest in a dispute between prosecutors and Concord’s American attorneys over how the defense team may share highly sensitive evidence with Concord’s Russian corporate officers.
    One of those officers is businessman Evgeny Prigozhin, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin and known in Russia as “Putin’s cook.”
    In the indictment, prosecutors said Russian defendants adopted false online personas to push divisive messages, traveled to the United States to collect intelligence and orchestrated political rallies while posing as Americans.    Prigozhin was one of the 13 people indicted.
    He is not expected to appear in a U.S. court because Russia does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.    His company Concord did hire American lawyers, however, to fight the charges.
    Prosecutors say they do not oppose allowing Concord’s corporate officers to see the evidence.
    However, they fear U.S. intelligence sources and methods could be compromised if the materials are not reviewed in the United States.    They have asked the judge not to let Concord distribute the materials electronically to people in Russia.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; editing by Grant McCool)

1/31/2019 President Trump: Democrats are becoming the party of late term abortions by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump is going after Democrats over their support of late-term abortions.    In a tweet Thursday, the president accused the left of becoming the party of late-term abortions, high taxes, open borders and crime.
    Trump tweet: “Democrats are becoming the Party of late term abortion, high taxes, Open borders and Crime!,”
    His comments come after Virginia Republicans struck down a Democrat-backed bill, which would allow women to request an abortion up until the point of delivery.
    Virginia’s Democrat Governor Ralph Northam came under fire for his defense of the bill when he said the proposal would essentially allow a mother to decide if she wanted her doctor to resuscitate the child after delivery.
FILE – In this Jan. 14, 2019, file photo, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam speaks to a crowd during a Women’s Rights rally at the
Capitol in Richmond, Va. A push by Virginia Democrats to loosen restrictions on late-term abortions is erupting into a fierce
partisan clash due to a lawmaker’s comments about late-term abortion. Gov. Ralph Northam added gas to the fire Wednesday, Jan. 30,
by describing a hypothetical situation where an infant who is severely deformed or unable to survive after birth could be left to die. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

1/31/2019 President Trump touts Afghanistan troops withdrawal in case peace deal is reached by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump is floating a possible withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan after 18-years of fighting.    In a statement Thursday,the president said he would pull out of Afghanistan if the Taliban and the Afghan government are able to reach a peace agreement.
    President Trump said he’s optimistic of the progress achieved in the ongoing peace negotiations.
U.S. troops walk outside their base in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan July 7, 2017. (REUTERS/Omar Sobhani/File Photo)
    Some experts are saying several joint U.S.-Afghan operations over the past year have decimated the Taliban’s ability to stage major attacks.    However, the Pentagon has warned the Taliban maintains control over large parts of Afghanistan.
    “I can’t tell you that this is a guarantee, because we’re going into close to 19-years of being in Afghanistan and for the first time they’re talking about settling, they’re talking about making an agreement, and we bring our people back home if that happens,” stated President Trump.    “We’ll see what happens, but they’re in very serious negotiations for the first time — there’s a reason for that.”
    Meanwhile, a U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan said the sides have agreed on a general view of the future peace accord.    However, officials have said the Taliban has yet to accept U.S. demands to disarm and cease terror-activity.

1/31/2019 President Trump: A wall is a wall, it is getting done one way or the other by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump recently reaffirmed his call for border security, and called on lawmakers to “stop playing political games.”
    Trump tweet: “Lets just call them WALLS from now on and stop playing political games! A WALL is a WALL!
    In a series of tweets Thursday, the president said large sections of the wall have already been built or are under construction.    He added, renovating existing walls is a big part of the plan to properly secure our border “after many decades.”
    He went on to say, “the wall is getting done one way or the other.”
President Donald Trump gives thumbs up as he steps off Air Force One. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    In follow up tweet, the president said Republicans are wasting their time, because Democrats won’t give money for a “desperately needed wall” despite evidence, proof, and the influx of migrant caravans.
    The president concluded by saying, “I got you covered,” and said he doesn’t expect much help.
    Trump tweet: “Republicans on the Homeland Security Committee are wasting their time. Democrats, despite all of the evidence, proof and Caravans coming, are not going to give money to build the DESPERATELY needed WALL. I’ve got you covered. Wall is already being built, I don’t expect much help!

1/31/2019 EU recognizes Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president by OAN Newsroom
    The EU has voted in favor of recognizing self proclaimed interim President Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.
    In a special session Thursday, EU lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of the recognition, identifying Guaido as the de facto head of state and calling on all EU governments to do the same.
    The non-binding vote considers Guaido as the only legitimate interim president until there are “new transparent and credible presidential elections.”
European Parliament members attend a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels,
Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. The European Parliament is calling on the EU member states to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president
of Venezuela as the 28-member bloc is still defining its position on the crisis there. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
    Last weekend, Britain, France, Germany and Spain said they would recognize Guaido unless President Nicolas Maduro called for elections within eight days.
    “It is urgent to find a peaceful and democratic way out of the crisis, a solution where the people of Venezuela have the chance to determine their own future. Free and fair elections are the only way out of this crisis.” — Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management
    The vote puts increasing pressure on Maduro as Venezuela continues to experience economic and political upheaval under his presidency.
    The U.S. hit Venezuela’s state-owned oil company with sanctions earlier this week in a bid to force Maduro to step down.

1/31/2019 Venezuelan Interim President Guaido calls for unity, cites the constitution for assuming presidency by OAN Newsroom
    Interim Venezuelan President Juan Guaido is citing the country’s constitution for the basis of assuming the presidency.
    In a New York Times op-ed published Wednesday, Guaido called for unity and also gave his legal argument for challenging Nicolas Maduro.    He claimed Venezuela’s last presidential elections were illegal, and Maduro’s term was supposed to end on January 10, 2019 when he was sworn in for a second term.
    Guaido also said under the constitution, authority would be handed over to the president of the National Assembly.
Opposition National Assembly President Juan Guaido takes part in a walkout against President Nicolas Maduro,
in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. The 35-year-lawmaker has transformed from a little-known opposition
figure into a commanding force in the nation’s politics with the backing of U.S. President Donald Trump and two dozen
other nations recognizing him as Venezuela’s interim president. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
    “We want humanitarian help from other countries, so that we can save lives that are being lost unjustly because of this regime,” said Venezuelan protester Patricia Davila.
    In the meantime, Colombia has placed a travel ban on officials who remain loyal to Maduro, including the vice president and Maduro himself.

1/31/20019 Germany drops F-35 from fighter tender; Boeing F/A-18 and Eurofighter to battle on by Andrea Shalal
FILE PHOTO: Visitors look at the Eurofighter Typhoon jet during the ILA Air Show
in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo
    BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany will pick either Eurofighter or Boeing’s F/A-18 fighter jet to replace its Tornado warplanes, knocking Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter out of a tender worth billions of euros, Defence Ministry sources said on Thursday.
    The ministry will make a final decision after receiving detailed information from Boeing and Airbus about the aircraft, which must be able to carry U.S. nuclear weapons to fulfill Germany’s obligations to NATO, the sources said.
    No timetable for a decision was given, but the process could take time since the U.S. government will have to certify both jets to carry the nuclear weapons.    Germany has 85 operational Tornado jets, but not all are equipped to carry nuclear weapons.
    The German air force will also move ahead with long-awaited plans to replace its 33 oldest Eurofighter jets, now used mainly for air policing or training, with new, more capable Eurofighters in coming years, the sources said.
    That will translate into orders worth up to 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) for Airbus, according to sources familiar with the issue.
    In marketing the F/A-18, Boeing had underscored its high readiness rates, relatively low cost and strong electronic attack capabilities, arguments that resonated in military circles.
    The decision marks a big setback for Lockheed, the top U.S. arms maker, which had hoped to add to recent F-35 sales to other European countries, including Belgium.
    Germany’s air force chief of staff was fired last year after he expressed a clear preference for the F-35.    The ministry later said it favored a “European solution.”
    Airbus welcomed the news about the Eurofighter replacement purchases, and said it remained convinced that its jet offered the lowest-risk prospect for replacing the Tornado jets.
    Lockheed said it had not been officially notified of a German decision.    It said the F-35 offered the most capability, lowest life-cycle cost of any fighter on the market, and long-term industrial and economic opportunities.
    Boeing declined to comment, as did the U.S. embassy in Berlin.
    Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition, had argued against rushing into any decision to buy U.S. aircraft and demanded closer study.     Military officials argue that the Tornadoes, which entered service in 1983, need urgent replacement due to rising maintenance costs.    Sources familiar with the matter say it could cost around 8 billion euros to keep the planes flying past 2030.
    Sources familiar with the process last year had said the ministry wanted to split the order between one of the two U.S. planes and the Eurofighter, which is built by Airbus, Britain’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Leonardo SpA.    But it now appears Berlin will pick just one winner.
    Paris, Germany’s closest European partner, had warned that buying the F-35 in particular could derail plans to develop a new Franco-German fighter by 2040.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Thomas Escritt and Kevin Liffey)

1/31/2019 Social Security expansion to get serious hearing in U.S. House by Mark Miller
FILE PHOTO: Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), (L) and Rep. John Larson (D-CT) speak prior to a House Ways and Means Committee markup of the
Republican Tax Reform legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/File Photo
    CHICAGO (Reuters) – The idea that Social Security benefits should be expanded – not cut – is going mainstream.
    Until the last few years, all Washington could talk about was how to cut Social Security benefits, and by how much.    But a grass-roots progressive coalition began campaigning for expansion in 2013, and the idea has since moved straight to the heart of the Democratic Party.
    That was evident this week when U.S. Representative John Larson introduced his Social Security 2100 Act in the House of Representatives.    The Connecticut Democrat’s proposal calls for a small across-the-board bump in benefits, a more generous annual cost-of-living adjustment and a higher minimum benefit for low-income workers.    Larson’s plan would pay for the expansion in two ways.     First, it would add new payroll taxes to wages over $400,000 (currently, tax collection stops at $132,900 of annual income).    The bill also would gradually phase in a higher payroll tax rate, with workers and employers each paying 7.4 percent by 2042, compared with the current rate of 6.2 percent.
    This is not the first time Larson has proposed this legislation, but this year it stands a very good chance of passage in the House.    The proposal had 54 co-sponsors when Larson first introduced it in 2015; now, it has more than 200 House co-sponsors – more than 85 percent of the Democratic majority.
    Larson himself is the new chairman of the Social Security subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee.    The new chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal, is a co-sponsor of the bill.
    Moreover, progressive support for Social Security expansion was an important campaign plank for many successful Democratic candidates in November’s midterm elections.    And nearly every declared and potential Democratic presidential candidate has endorsed expansion of some type for Social Security.
    The bill is not likely to become law while Republicans control the Senate and White House.    But Larson plans to hold hearings on the bill this year in Washington and around the country – the first congressional hearings focused on expansion in 50 years.
    That will provide an important forum to help educate the public and could puncture many of the toxic myths that have taken hold about Social Security in recent decades.    Among the most pernicious of those myths is that Social Security is headed for bankruptcy, and that benefits will not be there for young people when their retirement rolls around.
    “We need to educate and unmask so many of these myths,” Larson told me in an interview.    “We need to talk about why Social Security is an earned benefit and not an entitlement.    Certainly it is something you are entitled to, but the word makes Social Security sound like a poverty program or a handout.    Nothing roils people who have been paying into the program their entire lives more.”
    The myths are built on one very important kernel of truth.    Social Security does face a shortfall in revenue needed to pay scheduled benefits.    If Congress fails to act, Social Security benefits will be cut nearly 25 percent in 2034 – just 15 years from now.    This would be a financial disaster for current and future retirees, and it would undermine trust in the program.
    Larson’s bill puts Social Security back into balance over the next 75 years – the period of time the program is required by federal law to project its finances.    On the benefit side, it provides an increase for all enrollees equivalent to 2 percent of the average benefit, about $30 per month.    It would shift to a more generous annual cost-of-living adjustment formula that is more sensitive to medical inflation and other costs disproportionately affecting seniors.    The bill would also beef up the special minimum benefit paid to low-income retirees.
    For higher-income seniors, the bill also includes, effectively, a benefit boost in the form of a tax cut.
    Beneficiaries with higher income – usually from work, a pension or drawdowns from tax-deferred saving – often wind up paying income taxes on their Social Security benefits.
    The proportion of benefit that is taxable is determined using a formula called “provisional income” – your adjusted gross income (excluding Social Security benefits), plus non-taxable interest and half of your Social Security benefits.    If your provisional income is $25,000 to $34,000 (single return) or $32,000 to $44,000 (joint return), up to 50 percent of your Social Security benefit must be counted as adjusted gross income.    If your provisional income is more than $34,000 on a single return or $44,000 on a joint return, 85 percent must be added to AGI.
    The Larson bill would replace those thresholds with $50,000 (single filer) and $100,000 (joint filers), and if provisional income is above those levels, up to 85 percent is counted in adjusted gross income.
    Despite the bill’s strong odds in the House, the Republican-controlled Senate is not likely to take it up this year – although Larson says he is reaching out.    He also has put feelers out to the White House, noting that President Donald Trump opposed cuts to Social Security during the 2016 campaign.
    “I think we’re coming to some common-sense solutions,” Larson said.    “Especially when one of the biggest champions of protecting Social Security is the President of the United States.”
(This story corrects payroll tax cap figure in third paragraph to $132,900 for 2019)
(Reporting and writing by Mark Miller in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
[Most people do not know that Obama took 2% of social security for two years to cover his bailout plan, so why would it be short that amount now.].

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