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10 things you need to know today !

1. Shutdown talks break down as Trump heads to Texas for border visit

President Trump walked out of a White House meeting with congressional Democratic leaders on Wednesday, calling the talks on ending a partial government shutdown “a total waste of time” after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Democrats would not fund Trump’s promised wall on the southern border.

Trump tweeted that when Pelosi said she would oppose the wall even if Trump backed a deal to reopen the government, “I said bye-bye, nothing else works!” Democrats said Trump had thrown a “temper tantrum.” Trump on Thursday will visit the border in Texas, where he faces skepticism about the wall, even from some Republicans. Trump said in a Tuesday address the wall is “absolutely critical;” Democrats say he is manufacturing a crisis and should reopen the government. [The New York Times, The Washington Post]

2. House Democrats pass bill seeking to open Treasury Department

Reps. Will Hurd, (R-Texas), Brian Fitzpatrick, (R-Pa.) and Elise Stefanik, (R-N.Y.)

The Democrat-led House late Wednesday passed a bill seeking to reopen the Treasury Department and keep the Internal Revenue Service and Small Business Administration funded. The bill passed 240 to 188, with eight Republicans joining the Democrats and breaking with President Trump and GOP congressional leadership.

The legislation is considered to have no chance in the Republican-controlled Senate; Trump has said he won’t sign any deal to end a partial government shutdown that doesn’t include the $5.7 billion he has demanded to build a wall on the Mexican border. The Republican defections in the House came on the same day Trump emerged from a meeting with Republicans on Capitol Hill declaring that his party is “totally unified” behind his demand for wall funding. [The Washington Post, Axios]

3. Trump says he ordered FEMA to cut fire aid to California

President Trump tweeted Wednesday that he had “ordered FEMA to send no more money” to help California deal with devastation from wildfires. Trump said he was cutting off the money because “billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forrest (sic) fires that, with proper Forrest Management, would never happen.”

The president’s remark drew swift rebukes from both Democrats and Republicans as well as residents and public officials who lost homes and loved ones in November’s Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive in state history.

“I almost died in this fire,” said Butte County Supervisor Doug Teeter, who lost his home as did several of his family members. “I just want some help for my people — and I don’t appreciate being a political pawn over that.”

Newly elected Gov. Gavin Newsom, who a day earlier joined other Western governors in seeking federal help preventing wildfires, responded to Trump on Twitter that “disasters and recovery are no time for politics.”

Even Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa, who represents the Paradise area destroyed by the Camp Fire, criticized the president.

“Threats to FEMA funding are not helpful and will not solve the longer term forest management regulatory problems,” LaMalfa wrote in a statement on Twitter, adding that Trump “made the promise to help, and I expect him to keep it.”

LaMalfa did, however, say he shared Trump’s frustrations with “choking regulations from the stranglehold environmental groups have on the state.”

It was not the first time Trump has threatened to pull federal funding for California over forest management and other matters ranging from immigration law enforcement to free speech policies at state universities.

And it was unclear Wednesday whether the president had actually ordered funding to be cut, or if he even had the authority to do so. A court in August blocked Trump’s order withholding federal funds to “sanctuary cities” that frustrate federal immigration enforcement efforts.

The White House press office had no statement and did not respond to questions Wednesday morning about the FEMA funding. FEMA’s external affairs adviser based in Sacramento, Brad Pierce, said Wednesday that “we here at this office are waiting for additional guidance, same as everyone else.”

Last year’s Camp Fire ravaged an entire Northern California town, and the Woolsey Fire scorched the southern part of the state. Together, the fires destroyed at least 19,000 homes and killed 86 people. State officials disputed Trump’s suggestion the state was to blame, saying a warming climate is making wildfires worse and noting that the deadly Camp Fire is believed to have started in or near a federally managed forest. More than half of California’s forest land is federally owned. [The Mercury News]

4. Chinese media: Kim Jong Un affirmed commitment to second summit, denuclearization

Hasil gambar untuk Kim Jong Un hopes second summit with Trump will achieve results 'welcomed by the international community'

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un committed during his visit to China this week to pursuing a second summit with President Trump “to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community,” China’s Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.

“[North Korea] will continue sticking to the stance of denuclearization and resolving the Korean Peninsula issue through dialogue and consultation,” Xinhua quoted Kim as saying after his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump said last weekend that the two sides were negotiating where to hold a second summit, and that there would be an announcement about the plans “in the not-too-distant future.” Kim’s just-completed trip to Beijing this week was widely interpreted as a sign the summit plans are nearly finished. [USA Today]

5. Rod Rosenstein expected to depart Justice Department soon

 Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, on June 20, 2017.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller and oversaw his Russia election-meddling investigation for more than a year, has told President Trump he’s stepping down in the coming weeks, according ABC News and other news organizations.

NBC reported that Rosenstein plans to step down after Mueller finishes his work, which legal sources expected to happen by late February. Rosenstein and Trump have had an at-times contentious relationship, and acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has taken oversight of the Mueller investigation despite publicly questioning it earlier. Trump has nominated fellow Mueller skeptic William Barr as attorney general, and Rosenstein has reportedly told White House officials he is leaving after Barr is confirmed by the Senate and takes office. [ABC News, NBC News]

6. Democrats pass resolution affirming right to defend ObamaCare in court

 

Hasil gambar untuk Democrats pass resolution affirming right to defend ObamaCare in court

The Democrat-controlled House on Wednesday passed a resolution affirming the chamber’s authority to defend the Affordable Care Act in federal court. After Democrats took control of the House in the new Congress, lawmakers last week approved a rules package letting the House intervene in a lawsuit threatening to unravel the landmark health-care law, directing the House’s Office of General Counsel to defend the law against any litigation.

House Republicans voted in 2017 to repeal the law. A federal judge in Texas last month ruled that the law, typically referred to as ObamaCare, is unconstitutional because Congress eliminated the individual mandate penalty, although the law remains in effect pending an appeal of the ruling. [CNN]

7. Congo provisionally declares opposition candidate winner of election after delay

Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Congolese main opposition party, 30 December 2018

Election officials in the Democratic Republican of Congo “provisionally” declared opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi winner of a long-delayed presidential election Thursday, setting up the first democratic transfer of power since Congo’s independence in 1960. According to the national election commission, Tshisekedi narrowly beat another opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu, with Emmanuel Shadary, the hand-picked successor of outgoing President Joseph Kabila, a distant third.

Polls before the Dec. 30 election showed Fayulu with a commanding lead, and outside observers and institutions — notably the Catholic Church, which deployed 40,000 election observers — considered him the true victor. Just before the electoral commission named him the runner-up, Fayulu claimed it’s an “open secret” that Tshisekedi had entered a power-sharing agreement with Shadary and the Kabila government. [BBC News, The New York Times]

8. U.S.-supported militia reports capture of U.S. teen fighting for ISIS

A U.S.-backed force battling the Islamic State in Syria said Wednesday a 16-year-old American boy had been captured fighting for the Islamist extremist group. If the teen’s status is confirmed, he will be the first American minor caught fighting for ISIS. The arrest followed the announcement on Sunday that another American, former Texas substitute teacher Warren Christopher Clark, had been seized in the same area. The two are among as few as five American citizens captured so far during the war against ISIS. The militia that captured the boy, the Syrian Democratic Forces, said it had captured a total of eight foreign fighters this week in ISIS’s last stronghold in northern Syria, including citizens of Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.

Hasil gambar untuk Warren Christopher Clark, 34, a former substitute teacher from Texas

United States officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and over the weekend the same militia announced the capture of what they said was another American citizen. There were indications, however, that that person might be from Trinidad, according to Simon Cottee, a senior lecturer in criminology at the University of Kent. Mr. Cottee also said that he had a name very similar to that of the teenager said to be American in a database kept to track Islamic State fighters from Trinidad.

The captures were announced three weeks after President Trump declared “We have won against ISIS,” another name for the Islamic State, and ordered the withdrawal of 2,000 American troops from Syria.

While United States officials have estimated that 295 Americans either have joined or tried to join militant groups in Iraq and Syria, they have not said how many of those recruits successfully made it to the battle zone, nor which group they joined.

The database maintained by the Program on Extremism has identified just 55 American nationals who joined the Islamic State. That is a small fraction of the number from countries like France, from where at least 1,400 people are believed to have joined, according to the Paris-based Center for the Analysis of Terrorism.

While the 16-year-old would be the only American minor caught on the battlefield, other American teenagers have been found in Islamic State-controlled territory.

A 15-year-old girl from Kansas was repatriated from Syria, after being forced to travel to the war zone by her father. She was forcibly married to an ISIS fighter and was pregnant at the time of her capture.

And several other American teenagers have been arrested for trying to carry out attacks on behalf of the militants in the United States. Prosecuting them has proved difficult because of their age, said Seamus Hughes, the deputy director of the George Washington University Program on Extremism.

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In South Carolina, for instance, Zakaryia Abdin was accused of plotting an attack against soldiers on behalf of the Islamic State at age 16. He initially pleaded guilty to a firearms offense and was sentenced to one year in a juvenile facility. Only when he tried to travel to Syria following his parole, then age 18, did the Justice Department chargehim with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

In New Jersey, Santos Colon, 17, pleaded guilty in 2017 to participating in a plot to kill Pope Francis during a Mass in Philadelphia two years earlier. He was released to a halfway house pending sentencing; he faces up to 15 years in prison.

“Here’s the concern with this case,” Mr. Hughes said, referring to the teenager apprehended in Syria. “How long has this young man been in Syria? Did he go early on with family? Or is it a more recent case of traveling? And he is purported to have been fighting for ISIS. It’s one thing to say it and another to prove it in a court of law, and authorities may well decide not to prosecute him given his age.”

[The New York Times]

9. Government shutdown forces IPO delays

Hasil gambar untuk U.S. Government Shutdown Freezes IPO Market, Imperiling Expectations for 2019

The government shutdown has forced companies to postpone initial public offerings of stock they had hoped to hold in January, due to the partial closure of the Securities and Exchange Commission, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing sources that included bankers and lawyers. The firms that have held off on listing shares include biotechnology firms Gossamer Bio, Alector, and Blackstone Group LP’s Alight Solutions.

It now appears that no major company will hold an IPO this month. Since 1995, Dealogic data indicate that there have been IPOs in every January but three, in 2003, 2009, and 2016. Those years have been among the weakest on record for IPOs. This year is supposed to be a strong one. [The Wall Street Journal]

10. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and wife are getting divorced

Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie Bezos

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, are divorcing after 25 years of marriage following a trial separation, vowing to remain “cherished friends,” according to a statement posted Wednesday on Jeff Bezos’ Twitter account. “If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again,” they said. The Bezoses, who have four children, met in New York while they worked at hedge fund D.E. Shaw, and married after dating for six months.

Jeff Bezos then quit and started the online bookstore that would become an online retail giant, with Mackenzie Bezos contributing during Amazon’s early days operating from a Seattle garage. Jeff Bezos is now the world’s wealthiest person, with a fortune estimated at $137 billion. [The Associated Press]

The Week MHI

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