IT40 News for 01/26/2019

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IT40

#1 Trump Signs Spending Bill, Ending Longest Government Shutdown in U.S. History

WASHINGTON—President Trump reached a deal with congressional leaders Friday to reopen the government for three weeks despite getting no new funding for a border wall, setting the stage for whirlwind talks to bridge deep disagreements between Democrats and Republicans on immigration policy.

The bill, which includes an extension of border-security funding at current levels, was quickly passed by the Senate and House and was signed into law by the president late Friday. The short-term deal provides financial relief for about...

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#2 End of shutdown: workers left with debts, bad credit and shattered trust

Photo gallery by Reuters

Even as he announced an end to the longest government shutdown in US history, Donald Trump warned that a new shutdown could begin in just three weeks “if we don’t get a fair deal from Congress”.

That threat meant that clouds of uncertainty still remain in place for hundreds of thousands of government workers and unknown others whose lives were interrupted or derailed by a shutdown precipitated and prolonged by the president’s demand for a border wall, which he redoubled on Friday.

From the National Park Service to Nasa, the Coast Guard to border patrol, the Internal Revenue Service to the Transportation Security Administration – federal agencies are now filled with workers with damaged credit ratings, missed mortgage payments, new debts and, especially, new doubts about their basic job security and the future.

“I have the luxury that friends have loaned me one paycheck,” said Leisyka Parrott, 47, a furloughed employee with the Bureau of Land Management who is paying off a car loan. “The thing is when you get back pay, all the fees that you incur by missing payments – you don’t get paid back for those. If you are late for a payment and have a $25 fee, the government doesn’t pay for that.”

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#3 How socialism turned Venezuela from the wealthiest country in South America into an economic basket case

Venezuela was once the wealthiest country in South America, but in recent years millions have fled the country amid mass starvation and violence after socialist policies were enacted and government seized private industries.

Now, as Venezuelans struggle against the country’s current dictator, some Venezuelan exiles in the U.S. are desperately warning Americans to avoid going down a similar path.

“Socialism not only takes away from people the access to basic food and medicines, but also creates an environment in which life is worth nothing,” Giannina Raffo, who fled Venezuela in 2016 but who still works with activist organizations there, told Fox News.

VENEZUELA'S INTERIM PRESIDENT GUAIDO OFFERS MADURO AMNESTY IF HE CEDES POWER

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#4 PoliticsTrump makes rare cave on State of the Union speech

WASHINGTON (AP) — The counter-puncher caved.

President Donald Trump's decision to postpone his State of the Union address under pressure from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi surprised allies, contradicted top aides who had been working on an alternative speech plan and left all of Washington trying to determine whether it signaled new willingness by Trump to make a deal to reopen the government.

"Well, it's really her choice," Trump said Thursday, acknowledging Pelosi had the upper hand when it came to scheduling the traditional presidential address to Congress. The speaker had made clear Trump could not deliver his speech from the House unless he waited until the government reopens.

So Trump, who is typically loath to show any sign of weakness, made a highly uncharacteristic about-face and one that highlighted the importance the president attaches to the type of symbolism and pageantry associated with a speech from the rostrum of the House.

The president concluded that there was no viable alternative that could match the gravitas of the traditional State of the Union address, in which all three branches of government come together under one roof, drawing the president's largest television audience of the year. An alternative speech or rally also would have been a hard sell for television networks, which took heat earlier this month for airing the president's prime-time Oval Office address in which he largely rehashed his case for a southern border wall.

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#5 WorldEU nations give ultimatum to Venezuela’s Maduro as pressure mountsNancy Pelosi Has Officially Outplayed Donald TrumpTrump Just Caved — & Democrats Have Nancy Pelosi To Thank

Madrid (AFP) - Spain, France and Germany put embattled Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro on notice ahead of an UN Security Council meeting on Saturday, saying they would recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as president unless he calls elections within eight days.

The ultimatum comes as international pressure mounts on the Maduro regime to agree to a new vote, after the United States, Canada and major South American players recognised Guaido, who proclaimed himself acting president of Venezuela during massive street rallies this week.

After four years of economic pain that has left Venezuelans short of food and medicine and driven more than two million to flee, Guaido is trying to oust Maduro following controversial elections that saw the socialist leader sworn in for a second term.

"If within eight days there are no fair, free and transparent elections called in Venezuela, Spain will recognise Juan Guaido as Venezuelan president" so that he himself can call such polls, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a televised announcement.

French President Emmanuel Macron followed suit in a tweet, saying "the Venezuelan people must be able to freely decide on their future," as did German government spokeswoman Martina Fietz.

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#6 U.S.American Airlines kicks Michigan family off plane for body odorHome Depot co-founder on the crisis in Venezuela: Maduro is a dictator who is supported by every dictatorEU Sets Deadline for Maduro to Hold ‘Urgent’ Vote in Venezuela

A Southfield, Michigan, family was escorted off an American Airlines plane Wednesday after passengers complained of body odor.

Local 10 News in Florida reported that Yossi and Jennie Adler and their 19-month-old daughter were boarding a plane at the Miami International Airport when they were escorted off. But Yossi Adler told Local 10 News that the family did not have body odor and urged the airline to reveal the actual reason behind the family's removal from the plane.

A statement from American Airlines officials to the Detroit Free Press stated, "The Adler family were asked to deplane last night after several passengers, along with our crew members, complained about their body odor. The family were provided hotel accommodations and meals, and rebooked on a flight to Detroit today."

The Adler family could not be reached for comment Thursday morning.

Local 10 News received confirmation via text message that the family boarded a plane Thursday morning.

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#7 Business2019 Audi A7 and Mercedes-Benz CLS450 Face Off in a Luxury-Coupe BattleFamily kicked off American Airlines flight due to complaints about their body odorUS Jewish family taken off plane ‘after complaints about their body odour’ say they were removed because of their religion

Family kicked off American Airlines flight due to complaints about their body odor originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

A family vacationing in Miami said they were booted from an American Airlines flight this week due to complaints about their odor.

Yossi and Jennie Adler said they were forced off a flight from Miami to Detroit on Wednesday because passengers said they smelled bad.

The couple, along with their 1-year-old daughter, said they were escorted off the plane and told to book another flight due to several complaints, according to ABC affiliate WPLG.

"All of a sudden, as soon as they took us off, they closed the gate and then they said, 'Sorry, sir, some people complained you had body odor and we're not letting you back on,'" Yossi Adler told WPLG in an interview from Miami International Airport on Thursday.

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#8 WorldThe U.S. Failed in Venezuela Last Time. It’s a Different World NowMercedes-Benz to ramp up business with China auto suppliersMercedes-Benz to make more use of Chinese auto suppliers

(Bloomberg) -- When the U.S. rushed to endorse a military coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2002, it ended up with egg on its face. The self-styled leader of a “Bolivarian” revolution was back in office within three days -- and more anti-American than ever.

The decision by Washington to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the nation’s legitimate president could see a repeat, if Chavez-heir Nicolas Maduro should cling onto power. But it takes place in a very different geopolitical climate, one where failure risks global repercussions.

Venezuela’s economy is in a tailspin, prompting millions to flee to neighboring states that have backed the U.S. in refusing to recognize Maduro’s 2018 re-election, widely seen as fraudulent. The coup against Chavez was condemned by many Latin American governments as anti-democratic. Now it’s the military that’s keeping an authoritarian Maduro in power, in the face of much stronger domestic and regional opposition.

Yet the current stand-off is also freighted with great-power rivalry -- between China, Russia and the U.S. -- that barely existed in Venezuela 16 years ago. That’s providing Maduro with a reservoir of international support in standing up to Washington that Chavez didn’t enjoy. It also creates risks for the country’s long-term stability, should these powerful external players dig in to protect their loans, investments and political interests.

A wider ideological split on whether to prioritize democracy or sovereignty has also been added to traditional left-right divisions over what to do about Venezuela. That has joined Turkey to Maduro’s camp of authoritarian backers, determined to avoid new precedents for pro-democracy uprisings that could one day threaten their own positions.

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#10 Trump’s aggressive moves on Venezuela set up potential foreign policy victory — and a political win at home

Less than a month after he took office, President Trump issued a tough condemnation of the socialist government of Venezuela, startling both admirers and critics trying to get a bead on the new “America First” president’s scattershot foreign policy.

The statement followed an impromptu Oval Office meeting with the wife of a prominent imprisoned Venezuelan opposition leader. In one of his first foreign policy tweets, Trump denounced Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and demanded the prisoner’s immediate release.

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The two years of escalating sanctions, rhetorical jousting and occasional military threats that followed helped drive Venezuela further toward collapse. While Maduro remains, the emergence of opposition leader Juan Guaidó this week provided Trump with both a potential foreign policy victory and a desperately needed political win at home — particularly in Florida, a must-win state for his reelection campaign and home to an increasingly influential Venezuelan expatriate community.

After Wednesday’s U.S. recognition of Guaidó as interim president, the administration moved Friday to begin securing Venezuelan assets, including international reserves and the U.S.-based Citgo oil company, for his government. A new special envoy, retired senior diplomat Elliott Abrams, was named to lead what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called “our efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela.”

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#11 British paper apologizes to Melania Trump, pays ‘substantial damages’ over article

London's Daily Telegraph apologized to first lady Melania Trump on Saturday and said it had agreed to pay her "substantial damages" for publishing false statements regarding her family and her modeling career.

"We apologise unreservedly to The First Lady and her family for any embarrassment caused by our publication of these allegations," the newspaper wrote Saturday. "As a mark of our regret we have agreed to pay Mrs. Trump substantial damages as well as her legal costs."

The claims appeared last week in a cover story in its Saturday Magazine entitled "The Mystery of Melania."

The conservative British newspaper said the article should not have made the claim that Melania Trump was struggling in her modeling career before she met Donald Trump nor that she had advanced in her career due to his help.

"We accept that Mrs. Trump was a successful professional model in her own right before she met her husband and obtained her own modeling work without his assistance, " the Telegraph said. 

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#12 9 dead, search for 300 missing after Brazil dam collapse

According to reports, at least 200 people are missing after a dam collapsed at an iron-ore mine in south-eastern Brazil. Rescue teams are dispatched and residents around the area have been evacuated.

(Pictured) Residents are seen in an area next to a dam owned by Brazilian miner Vale SA that burst, in Brumadinho, Brazil on Jan. 25.

SAO PAULO — Rescuers in helicopter on Saturday searched for survivors in a huge area in southeastern Brazil buried by mud from the collapse of dam holding back mine waste, with at least nine people dead and up to 300 missing.

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#13 Mexico Moves to Encourage Caravan Migrants to Stay and Work

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico — Mexico’s new president has moved decisively to encourage migrants fleeing poverty and violence in Central America to stay and work in Mexico, making it easier for them to get visas and work permits and promoting investments and ambitious public works projects to create jobs.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s policies are already proving to be a magnet for migrants, who are finding it harder to enter the United States given President Trump’s antipathy toward immigration. A migrant caravan heading to Mexico from Central America — the largest ever — has already swollen to over 12,000 people, with many saying they intend to remain in Mexico, at least for the time being.

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#14 Death toll from Italy helicopter-plane crash rises to 7

Mountain rescuer workers on Saturday recovered the bodies of two people, raising the death toll from a deadly collision between a helicopter and light aircraft in the Alps to seven.

Two people were hospitalised after the crash in the Aosta Valley near France, which appeared to have happened just after the helicopter took off, unaware that the aircraft was landing, Italian media reported.

The helicopter was carrying a German alpine guide and four German heli-skiers, while the light aircraft was a French four-seater tourist Jodel plane with three people on board, the reports said.

All six on board the helicopter, including Italian pilot Maurizio Scarpelli, were killed, along with one of the people from the plane. A French and a Swiss national from the Jodel were seriously injured.

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#15 Dueling Venezuela leaders dig in defending presidency claims

CARACAS, Venezuela — The Venezuelan opposition leader who has declared himself interim president vowed Friday he would remain on the streets until the South American country has a transitional government, while President Nicolas Maduro dug in and accused his opponents of orchestrating a coup.

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In dueling press conferences, Juan Guaido urged his followers to stage another mass protest next week, while Maduro pushed his oft-repeated call for dialogue. Each man appeared ready to defend his claim to the presidency no matter the cost, with Guaido telling supporters that if he is arrested they should "stay the course" and peacefully protest.

But the standoff could set the scene for more violence and has plunged troubled Venezuela into a new chapter of political turmoil that rights groups say has already left more than two dozen dead as thousands take to the street demanding Maduro step down.

"They can cut a flower, but they will never keep spring from coming," Guaido told supporters Friday, alluding to a similar phrase from the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.

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#16 Germany rolls up refugee welcome mat in face of right-wing threat

Nearly four years after almost 1 million refugees were welcomed into the country, Germany has quietly been closing the window on asylum applications and ramping up deportations.

This trend has continued even as the number of people arriving in Europe has dropped 80% since the height of the migrant crisis in 2015, according to the UN.

On Wednesday, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced that in 2018 Germany received about 185,000 asylum applications, a drop of 17% from last year, and far fewer than the 2015 peak of 890,000.

"We now have the problem under control. We have put things in order," said Seehofer. "We offer protection for people who are vulnerable. However, the population will only accept asylum rights if we can repatriate those who don't need to be protected.''

Seehofer proudly stated that the number was well within the "upper limit" to migration agreed by Germany's coalition government.

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#17 Brexit date could be pushed back by a ‘couple of extra weeks’: Leadsom

LONDON (Reuters) - The date Britain leaves the EU could be pushed back by a couple of weeks to give time for legislation to be approved by lawmakers, the leader of Britain's lower house of parliament said, the most senior figure to make such a suggestion.

Britain, the world's fifth largest economy, is due to leave the European Union on March 29 but Prime Minister Theresa May's negotiated exit deal was rejected by lawmakers, leaving open the possibility of a disorderly Brexit.

Parliament will now vote on a series of amendments on Tuesday with the United Kingdom facing its deepest political crisis in half a century as it grapples with how, or even whether, to exit the European project it joined in 1973.

"We can get the legislation through and I think we do, in spite of everything, have a very strong relationship with our EU friends and neighbors and I am absolutely certain that if we needed a couple of extra weeks or something then that would be feasible," Andrea Leadsom told the BBC.

Responding to the idea that this would mean extending the two-year Article 50 negotiation period, Leadsom, who is the organizer of government business in the lower house of parliament, told the BBC:

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#18 Detained American’s brother says lawyer “was chosen for him”

The lawyer for an American man who has been held in Moscow for weeks on suspicion of spying "was chosen for him," the man's brother said.

David Whelan said in a statement Friday that his brother, former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, met with Stephane Jobin, the Canadian charges d'affaires, at Lefortovo Prison in Moscow on Thursday.

"On this visit, Paul was able to confirm what our family had suspected, which is that his lawyer, Mr. Zherebenkov, was chosen for him," David Whelan said. "We remain in the dark about who made the choice if Paul didn't."

David Whelan also said his brother was concerned he has only seen the lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, twice.

"I have emailed with Olga Karlova, an English-speaking lawyer who has indicated she is now part of the defense team with Mr. Zherebenkov and Mr. Zherebenkov's son, Roman," he said. "They are hoping to make more regular visits, including one next week."

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#19 Day and night, yellow vest protests keep pressure on Macron

PARIS — France's yellow vest protesters hit the streets again Saturday, keeping up pressure on President Emmanuel Macron even as internal divisions and frustration over protest violence cloud the movement's future.

Multiple protests are being held around Paris and other cities, the 11th straight weekend of action prompted by Macron policies seen as favoring the rich.

Macron has sapped some support for the movement by taking an active role in recent days in a national debate in towns across France, launched to address the protesters' concerns.

Some yellow vest leaders are trying to keep up momentum by holding protests after dark as well as during the day. A small crowd of protesters advanced peacefully Saturday morning down the Champs-Elysees, site of recent rioting. Two other groups plan evening events across town, at Place de la Republique in eastern Paris.

France deployed about 80,000 police Saturday against protest violence. About the same number of protesters took to the streets the last two weekends.

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#20 Japan’s Supreme Court upholds transgender sterilization requirement before official change

The Japanese Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that transgender people must be sterilized before filing gender changes on official documents.

The 4-0 ruling backs the law as constitutional as its initial intention was to curtail confusion among society. But the court also acknowledged that it restricts freedom and may not be in keeping with sweeping social mores.

Takakito Usui, a transgender man still possessing female reproductive glands, appealed to the court to grant him legal recognition as a man. He claimed his right to self-determination was being infringed upon, reported The Associated Press.

The 2004 law states people wishing to register a gender change must have their original reproductive organs — including ovaries or testes — extracted and have a body that “appears to have parts to resemble the genital organs” of the gender they wish to register.

More than 7,800 Japanese citizens have had their genders officially changed, according to Justice Ministry statistics cited by public broadcaster NHK.

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#21 Barack Obama’s Photographer Trolls Roger Stone With Rolling Stones Lyrics

Former White House photographer Pete Souza used an old image he snapped of The Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger to comment on the indictment of President Donald Trump’s longtime associate Roger Stone.

FBI agents raided Stone’s Florida home Friday morning and arrested him on charges of obstruction, false statements and witness tampering as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible Trump campaign collusion. Stone denies the allegations.

Souza shared this 2012 picture of Jagger performing in front of former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama to Instagram soon after: 

It was Souza’s killer caption, however, that really took aim at Stone.

“A Rolling Stone (as opposed to a Roger Stone),” he wrote. He also included a line from the Stones’ 1968 hit “Sympathy for the Devil.”

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#22 ‘She’s Wrong’: Washington Post Hits Back At Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘Misfired Facts’

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) faced off with The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler in a heated battle over a fact check chiding her for playing “fast and loose” with the truth on living and minimum wages.

The statements in question came during a Martin Luther King Day Q&A last Monday with writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. While discussing economic inequality, the freshman congresswoman asserted that “a vast majority of the country doesn’t make a living wage,” lamenting that “you can work 100 hours and not feed your kids.”

“I think it’s wrong that corporations like Walmart and Amazon can get paid by the government, essentially experience a wealth transfer from the public, for paying people less than a minimum wage,” she added.

Debunking the lawmaker’s claim on minimum wage, Kessler turned to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, speaking to its manager, Amy Glasmeier, who noted the statement wasn’t quite accurate considering 2017′s living wage averaged just over $16 an hour. Still, Glasmeier acknowledged estimates are tough.

But Kessler gave Ocasio-Cortez credit where it was due, noting her “100 hours” remark was a low estimate, if anything.

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#23 U.S.The Latest: Suspect worked at Walmart, restaurant, auto shopThe Atlantic Daily: One Nation, Under Two Presidents?Venezuela’s Maduro and Guaido Duel in Simultaneous Broadcasts

SEBRING, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the shooting of five women at a Florida bank (all times local):

7:20 p.m.

Records show that the man suspected of killing five women at a Florida bank worked at a Walmart, a Mexican restaurant and an oil change shop in Indiana before moving to Florida and getting a job as a corrections officer.

The Florida Department of Corrections personnel file for 21-year-old Zephen Xaver shows he stayed at each job in Plymouth, Indiana, for just a few months. Xaver was hired as a trainee prison guard at Avon Park Correctional Institution on Nov. 2 and resigned Jan. 9. No disciplinary issues were reported.

Xaver's employment history shows that he worked at the Hacienda Mexican restaurant from August 2014 to January 2015, when he was terminated. He worked at Duke of Oil from September 2015 to December 2015, when he left to deal with "family issues." He was a Walmart overnight maintenance worker from January 2018 to April 2018, when he moved to Florida.

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#24 WorldVenezuela crisis: Opposition leader Guaido offers ‘amnesty’ for President MaduroZephen Xaver’s ex says Florida shooting suspect ‘always hated people’21-year-old man charged in killing of 5 women in Florida bank

Venezuela’s opposition leader has indicated he would grant amnesty to embattled president Nicolas Maduro if he cedes power.

Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim president of the South American country amid mass demonstrations against Mr Maduro, said “all those who are willing to side with the constitution” could be offered reprieves.

Speaking from an undisclosed location, the 35-year-old National Assembly leader told the American Spanish-language TV channel Univison that an amnesty could also be offered to the president and his closest allies.

“Given time it will be evaluated. Amnesty is on the table," he said. "Those guarantees are for all those who are willing to side with the constitution to recover the constitutional order.”

Mr Guaido’s whereabouts have been a mystery since he was symbolically sworn in as interim president before tens of thousands of cheering demonstrators at a rally on Wednesday.

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