NEWS     SUNDAY,  DECEMBER   16, 2018    NEWS

Republicans wrap up election probes as Dems prepare to take control
Republicans cede control of the House to Democrats on January 3. The end of the 115th Congress marks an end to the GOP’s approach to probing the 2016 presidential campaign, allegations of election interference, potential political bias at the FBI & Justice Department and inquiries into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Come January, one can expect Democrats to take a different approach with their investigations. “There is popular demand for the Congress to request the President’s tax returns,” said House Minority Leader and Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “I’m sure the White House will resist. And so the question is, where do we go from there?” Republicans have paraded a series of witnesses through Congressional hearing rooms for transcribed interviews and depositions. Former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page were among those summoned to Capitol Hill. Fox
VOA VIEW: Dems will make 2019 very interesting madness.

FBI releases document intel officials used to brief Trump on dossier
The FBI on Friday released a redacted version of the memo that top intelligence officials, including former FBI Director James Comey, used to brief President Donald Trump about the compilation of information detailing his possible connections to Russia -- a document which came to be known as the Trump dossier. The two-page document says, "An FBI source ... volunteered highly politically sensitive information ... on Russian influence efforts aimed at the US presidential election." The document was provided to CNN by the public records advocacy group James Madison Project, which, alongside Politico, had sued for it and received it from the FBI on Friday night following a judge's order. CNN
VOA VIEW: The operative word is redacted.

Hatch says he regrets his 'I don't care' comment about Trump allegations
Sen. Orrin Hatch, the outgoing Utah Republican and most senior GOP senator, issued a statement on Friday expressing regret for telling CNN "I don't care" when asked about President Donald Trump being implicated in crimes by Michael Cohen. "Earlier this week in an unplanned hallway interview with CNN, I made comments about allegations against the President that were irresponsible and a poor reflection on my lengthy record of dedication to the rule of law," the senator said in the statement.
In the interview with CNN earlier in the week, Hatch strongly dismissed the federal government's allegations that Trump directed Cohen, his former attorney, to commit two crimes by facilitating hush money payments to silence stories about alleged affairs with Trump. CNN
VOA VIEW: CNN bias rhetoric.

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As Trump argues for a wall, a border security measure gets pulled back
U.S. Army soldiers have removed barbed wire along the US-Mexico border in areas where the Trump administration has said more border security measures are needed after local community leaders raised concerns. About 2 miles of military-grade wire was removed from city land in Laredo, Texas, according to Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials. The agency ordered the removals after hearing from local elected officials who raised environmental and public safety concerns with the wire running near community parks. Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz, who leads the Texas Border Commission, said the Trump administration has, in part, used his community to fabricate the threat of migrants traveling north. “ABC
VOA VIEW: The libs will regret their stupidity.

Thousands of troops to remain on US-Mexico border as Trump's original military deployment comes to a close
Days before the midterm elections, President Donald Trump announced the deployment of active duty troops to the southern border to stop caravans of migrants making their way through Mexico. On Saturday, that original border mission comes to a close, but thousands of U.S. troops will remain for an extended and reduced mission in support of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) slated to last through January 31. At the height of the deployment, there were 5,900 active duty troops stationed in California, Arizona and Texas. On Thursday, U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) said that figure had dropped to 4,200, but a U.S. official told ABC News that eventually only about 2,500 to 3,000 troops will remain.  ABC

Critics say Elizabeth Warren is too divisive to run for president
What's the biggest beef against Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is considering a run for president against Donald Trump? It's that she's "too divisive," an argument put forward by her hometown newspaper, the Boston Globe, in a widely discussed editorial last week urging her not to run for president. It sparked both public rebukes of the paper and some private nods of agreement from Democrats as they begin to consider in earnest what kind of person their party should put up against Trump in 2020:
A fighter, a friendly face or some combination of both?  NBC

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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to depart Trump administration by end of the year
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will leave his job in the administration at the end of the year, President Donald Trump announced in a tweet on Saturday morning.
The president said in a followup tweet that the White House would announce a replacement next week. Trump chose Zinke in December 2016 to serve in the cabinet-level position. "[Zinke] has accomplished much during his tenure and I want to thank him for his service to our Nation," the president tweeted. Zinke, a former Navy SEAL and Montana's lone congressman, will leave a legacy as a secretary who rolled back federal lands protections in pursuit of the Trump agenda to increase energy production. NBC

Politics cloud felon voting rights restoration in Florida
Elections officials across Florida say they expect former felons to flock to their offices to register to vote next month when a newly passed ballot initiative launches one of the largest enfranchisement efforts in modern U.S. history. But partisan politics and logistical questions are clouding the Jan. 8 rollout of a state constitutional amendment that could restore voting rights to more than 1 million ex-felons in Florida. Democrats and voting rights advocates cried foul this week when Governor-elect Ron DeSantis, a Republican and critic of the measure known as Amendment 4, said the Republican-controlled state legislature must first pass a law to implement its changes. Reuters

'Beware the affluence of gold': on reading Diderot in the age of Trump
On a typical day, Denis Diderot might write about ancient Chinese music in the morning, study the mechanics of a cotton mill in the afternoon, then work on a play after dinner.  The man was both workhorse and Enlightenment polymath: a genius who wrote 7,000 articles for his celebrated Encyclopédie while producing revolutionary novels, groundbreaking art criticism and proto-Darwinian science fiction. To round this out, he also authored some of the century’s most influential political writing – much of it now eerily prescient in the Trump era. As a young man, Diderot did not concern himself with politics per se. His target was the Catholic church and organized religion. Reuters

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Jennifer Lawrence denies she ever slept with 'predator' Harvey Weinstein
Jennifer Lawrence has been forced to deny having a sexual relationship with disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein after the claims emerged in court documents.
The Hollywood star, who first came to prominence in The Hunger Games film series, is referred to in a sexual assault lawsuit filed by an anonymous actress in Los Angeles. The claim, which was filed on Friday, alleges that Weinstein pushed the woman to the ground and forcibly performed oral sex on her after she rejected his advances during a meeting at his office in 2013. According to the legal documents, Weinstein, 66, asked the claimant, referred to as “Jane Doe”, “Do you even want to be an actress?” before adding “I slept with Jennifer Lawrence and look where she is, she has just won an Oscar.” Telegraph

$1 Billion a Month: The Cost of Trump's Tariffs on Technology
U.S. companies paid $1 billion more in tariffs on technology products imported from China in October than a year earlier, as new duties imposed by the Trump administration took effect. The tariff costs rose more than seven-fold to $1.3 billion, as the world’s two biggest economies became embroiled in a trade war, according to data provided by the Consumer Technology Association and analyzed by consulting firm The Trade Partnership. President Donald Trump has imposed tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports since early July. The duties have been implemented in three tranches, the latest of which applied to $200 billion in goods and took effect Sept. 24. A new round of talks between the two governments has raised hopes of a lasting truce.  Bloomberg

'InfoWars-style garbage dump': Critically acclaimed 'Vice' doesn't align with history
It’s snagging accolades from some of Hollywood’s most prestigious groups, but “Vice” — the cinematic rendering of former Vice President Dick Cheney, starring Christian Bale in the title role — is getting far less love from those who actually know the man. That proves true even for some in the George W. Bush administration who didn’t always agree with the vice president. “Vice” — a comedic broadside from progressive filmmaker Adam McKay (“The Big Short”) — has racked up nine Critics’ Choice Award nominations, six Golden Globe nominations and two Screen Actors Guild Award nods. It is receiving significant Oscar buzz for a film that hasn’t even opened: It debuts Dec. 23.  Washington Times

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Climate talks extended as island nations demand action
Weary officials from almost 200 countries faced another day of negotiations at the U.N. climate talks to bridge their last remaining differences as small island nations on Friday demanded an ambitious stance against global warming. The talks in Poland were supposed to end Friday, but Michal Kurtyka, a senior Polish official chairing the negotiations, told delegates to resume talks on a revised draft text at 4 a.m. Saturday (0300 GMT). The effort was bringing results in the form of preliminary texts for fine tuning, according to Kurtyka's statement late Friday. Kansas City Star

Trump claims he's in 'no hurry' to reach North Korea nukes deal
President Donald Trump on Friday claimed he's in "no hurry" to reach a denuclearization pact with North Korea, while also expressing faith in leader Kim Jong Un as a negotiating partner. Many people have asked how we are doing in our negotiations with North Korea - I always reply by saying we are in no hurry, there is wonderful potential for great economic success for that country....Kim Jong Un sees it better than anyone and will fully take advantage of it for his people. We are doing just fine!" the president wrote in a series of tweets. Politico

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How Schumer united Dems against Trump’s wall
The midterm election results had barely finished trickling in when Chuck Schumer began preparing for a head-on collision with President Donald Trump over the border wall. The Senate minority leader called his members on the phone and buttonholed them in his office — eager to see where they stood on the president’s $5 billion border wall request, according to a person familiar with his interactions. Several moderate Democrats had previously endorsed or considered supporting the funding, but after the midterms, the whip count was clear. There aren’t even close to nine Democrats who would join Republicans to break a filibuster. Politico

Yemen ceasefire deal: ‘Potential’ now to restore humanitarian lifeline to millions
“This agreement has the potential to allow the ports of Hudaydah and Saleef to operate at near-normal capacity,” WFP spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel told journalists in Geneva. “The free flow of commercial food supplies into Yemen should prevent further increases in food prices, which have sky-rocketed in the last few months.”
WFP and other UN agencies have described Hudaydah as the principal lifeline for two-thirds of the population, who have endured suffering on a huge scale since fighting escalated between Government forces and Houthi opposition militia, in March 2015. Before the warring sides agreed a deal at UN-led talks in Sweden this week, clashes had prevented the sustained supply of commercially shipped food and fuel through Hudaydah.  UN

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