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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Trump: ‘I Can’t Say I’m Happy’ With Border Deal

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1. MULLING IT OVER
Trump: 'I Can't Say I'm Happy' With Border Deal

President Trump has yet to decide whether he'll support a potential funding deal thrashed out by congressional negotiators Monday that would force him to accept much less wall funding than he said he wanted. Trump told reporters Tuesday that "I can't say I'm happy, I can't say I'm thrilled" with the deal as it stands. But the president added that he "wouldn't want to see a shutdown." "It's not going to do the trick, but I'm adding things to it and when you add whatever I have to add, it's all going to happen where we're going to build a beautiful big strong wall," he said. Negotiators agreed in principle to a deal that would allocate $1.375 billion to build 55 miles of new border barriers—far short of the $5.7 billion Trump has asked for. However, the agreement would also scrap the Democratic demand for a limit on the number of detentions of immigrants apprehended in the U.S.

To avoid another partial government shutdown at the end of the week, the potential deal would have to be written into legislation, pass both chambers of Congress and get Trump's approval before Friday night. At his Monday night rally in El Paso, Texas, Trump showed no sign of relenting on his border-wall demands, saying: "Just so you know, we're building the wall anyway... We're setting the table, we're doing whatever we have to do. The wall's being built."

Read it at Bloomberg News
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2. DIOS MIO
Prosecutor: El Chapo Conviction Is 'Victory' for America

Richard Donoghue, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, praised the Tuesday conviction of notorious drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman as a "victory for the American people." "It is a sentence from which there is no escape and no return," Donoghue said, according to CBS News. "His conviction is a victory for the American people who have suffered so long and so much while Guzman made billions pouring poison over our southern border." Guzman was found guilty Tuesday on all ten of the charges against him, drawing his months-long New York trial to a close after six days of jury deliberation. The charges include conspiracy to commit murder, manufacturing and distributing cocaine and heroin, and engaging in a criminal enterprise. He now faces life in prison.

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3. SHOWING UP
Elizabeth Warren Speaks at Native-American Conference

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who officially announced her presidential bid on Saturday, spoke to the National Indian Women's "Supporting Each Other" luncheon on Tuesday, urging congressional action on a set of issues affecting the community.

According to prepared remarks provided to The Daily Beast, Warren was introduced and praised by Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM), one of the two first Native-American women to serve in Congress. In her speech, the senator listed a number of legislative priorities related to the Native-American community. "The alarming number of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls continues to grow," she said in the speech, which was first reported by HuffPost. "But Congress failed to pass legislation to address this epidemic." Warren also urged action on rising suicide rates among Native people, as well as housing, health-care, and drug-addiction issues. She called for "enforcing our federal government's trust and treaty responsibilities to beating back the assault on the Indian Child Welfare Act."

Warren's address came after she apologized to the Cherokee Nation for releasing a DNA test attempting to prove her Native American ancestry and for a Washington Post report that found she identified her race as "American Indian" on a Texas state bar form in 1986.

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4. UM
Trump: I Didn't Know AMI Was Investigating Jeff Bezos

President Trump claimed Tuesday that he was not aware that National Enquirer publisher American Media, Inc., was investigating Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in preparation for their blockbuster report about his extra-marital affair. When Trump was asked if he was aware of the investigation, CNN's Brian Stelter reports, Trump shook his head and responded, "No, no I wasn't." Bezos has accused the publisher of blackmailing him with threats to publish his private texts and photos with his mistress, Lauren Sanchez, a claim AMI has denied. Sources told The Daily Beast that Sanchez's brother, Michael Sanchez, supplied the messages to the Trump-friendly National Enquirer. Documents show that Michael Sanchez thought the tabloid was chasing down the Bezos story with "President Trump's knowledge and appreciation." Sanchez also told The Washington Post that AMI staffers had told him the Enquirer was working on "a takedown to make Trump happy."

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6. WOW
Facebook Under Fire for Permitting Anti-Vaccination Groups

Facebook is facing pressure to block anti-vaccination pages and groups that are spreading misinformation, The Guardian reports. The "anti-vaxxers" reportedly operate in closed groups, some of which tout the benefits of other "natural" remedies to replace vaccines. One closed group, called Vitamin C & Orthomolecular Medicine for Optimal Health, reportedly states that it is "neutral" on the vaccine topic, but some of the group's 49,000 members have discussed the use of vitamin C to protect against measles and other illnesses. The leader of the group, Katie Gironda, reportedly sells her own high-dose vitamin C products in the group—charging over $400 for 24-pound bags of vitamin C powder.

Spokeswoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, told the newspaper that Facebook needs to do more. "Parents deserve the truth," she said. "If they are being served up something that is not true it will likely increase their levels of anxiety and fear and potentially change their uptake of vaccines, which is dangerous." Facebook reportedly did not respond to the newspaper's request for comment on the anti-vaxx groups. This comes after Washington state imposed a state of emergency last month after 48 people contracted measles.

Read it at The Guardian
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7. FREE
Rapper 21 Savage Released on Bond After ICE Arrest: Lawyers

Rapper 21 Savage, also known as She'yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was released on bond Tuesday and granted an "expedited hearing," according to a statement from his lawyers. "In the last 24 hours, in the wake of the Grammy Awards at which he was scheduled to attend and perform, we received notice that She'yaa was granted an expedited hearing," the statement read. "Today, 21 Savage was granted a release on bond. He won his freedom." His lawyers also said the rapper wanted to express his gratitude for the "support from around the world and is more than ever, ready to be with his loved ones." The Atlanta-based rapper, who was born in the U.K., was detained earlier this month by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which accused him of staying in the U.S. on an expired visa. His lawyers maintained that the government knew about the rapper's immigration status, and claimed he had a visa application pending approval.

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8. DON'T DO IT
Ann Coulter: Trump Is 'Afraid to Fight' for His Border Wall

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter on Tuesday accused Donald Trump of being afraid to "fight" for his border wall, as the president mulls a tentative border deal that would avert another government shutdown. "Call this his 'Yellow New Deal,'" she tweeted, in mocking reference to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal, which is aimed at combating the effects of climate change. The potential border deal was reached Monday night while Trump was holding a rally in the border city of El Paso, Texas. The new plan would allocate $1.375 billion to build 55 miles of new border barriers, a figure that has been deemed insufficient by many Republicans. But the hosts of Fox & Friends, who notoriously have the ear of the president, essentially urged him to take the Democrats' deal Tuesday morning in order to avoid another government shutdown. The White House is reportedly waiting to review the deal's full language before making a decision.

Senate Democrats have been trying to block Trump from declaring a national emergency in order to build the wall. Such a declaration would use funds from either the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the Department of Defense's military construction accounts.

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Read it at Blommberg
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9. YIKES
IRS Watchdog: Shutdown Inflicted Harm on Taxpayers

Weeks after the longest government shutdown ended, the Internal Revenue Service reportedly continues to struggle through a backlog of correspondences, audit responses, and amended returns. According to The Wall Street Journal, IRS employees are working through 5 million interactions with taxpayers and "tens of thousands" of necessary audit and return updates after being furloughed during the shutdown. A report released Tuesday also revealed that the IRS accounts-management phone line had a 17 minute wait time—compared to four minutes last year—and other IRS hotlines had even longer wait times. The agency was reportedly still operating during the shutdown, but this caused taxpayers to receive notices with "serious consequences" without the proper information or support from agency personnel.

The report found taxpayers facing economic hardship couldn't get property seizures reversed or get money back into their accounts during the shutdown because many of the staffers who would have aided them were out of work. "It is unconscionable for the government to allow its employees to enforce collection of taxes without the concomitant taxpayer rights protections enacted by Congress," Nina Olson, IRS ombudsman, wrote in the report.

Read it at Wall Street Journal
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10. 'HUMILIATED'
Aziz Ansari Finally Addresses #MeToo Allegation on Stage

More than a year after he released his one and only statement responding to a sexual-misconduct allegation made against him—he maintained that the encounter was "completely consensual"—comedian Aziz Ansari finally opened up about the experience during a set for about 200 fans at the Village Underground club in New York on Monday night. During the show, billed as a "pop-up" event outside of his larger theater tour, Ansari explained that he waited so long to discuss what happened onstage because "it's a terrifying thing to talk about," adding "There were times I felt really upset and humiliated and embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible this person felt this way. But you know, after a year, how I feel about it is, I hope it was a step forward. It made me think about a lot, and I hope I've become a better person."

In addition to thoughtful reflections like those and others, Ansari did find a way to make jokes about his new public perception as an offender in the #MeToo movement. After telling the crowd that he was recently mistaken for another Indian-American comic with a Netflix show, Hasan Minhaj, he reportedly acted out his interaction with the confused fan: "'Oh, no, Aziz, right?' Yeah, yeah, that's me. 'Master of None!' Yeah, yeah, that's me. 'Parks and Rec!' Yeah, yeah, that's me. 'Treat yourself!' Yeah, yeah, that's me. 'And you had the whole thing come out last year—sexual misconduct?' No, no, no, no, no, no, that's Hasan!"

Read it at Vulture
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