GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN-THE LATEST
The Latest: Democrats plan to pass a bill funding Treasury
WASHINGTON (AP) — As government shutdown talks remain at an impasse, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says House Democrats plan to start approving individual bills to reopen shuttered departments.
Pelosi said Saturday that they would start with Treasury to ensure Americans receive their tax refunds on schedule.
In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that will air Sunday, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney says the president is willing to deal.
Mulvaney says Trump is willing to forego a concrete wall for steel or other materials.
Trump has already suggested his definition of the wall is flexible. But Democrats have made clear they see a wall as immoral and ineffective and prefer other types of border security funded at already agreed upon levels.
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN-NATIONAL PARKS
National parks struggle to stay open, safe during shutdown
Nonprofits, businesses and state governments nationwide are putting up money and volunteer hours in a battle to keep national parks safe and clean for visitors as the partial U.S. government shutdown lingers.
But such makeshift arrangements haven’t prevented some parks from closing and others from being inundated with trash.
Support groups say donations of money and time could run short if the budget impasse between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats lasts much longer.
Some are calling for parks to close for the duration of the standoff. Trump said Friday that it could last “months or even years.”
National Park Service spokesman Jeremy Barnum says the agency has reached deals with more than 60 partner groups, concessionaires and states to handle basic tasks at more than 40 parks.
Airports seeing rise in security screeners calling off work
NEW YORK (AP) — The federal agency tasked with guaranteeing U.S. airport security is acknowledging an increase in the number of its employees calling off work during the partial government shutdown.
The Transportation Security Administration said in a Friday tweet that call outs that began over the holiday period are on the rise but the impact has been “minimal.” The agency said wait times may be affected but so far “remain well within TSA standards.”
TSA employees are expected to work without pay during the shutdown because they are considered essential.
The Department of Homeland Security and President Donald Trump pushed back Saturday on suggestions that the absences represented a “sickout” that was having significant consequences on U.S. air travel.
The Latest: Parents ID 2 killed in bowling alley shooting
TORRANCE, Calif. (AP) — Family members have identified two of the three people killed in a shooting at a bowling alley in Southern California late Friday.
The grieving mother of 28-year-old Robert Meekins told KABC-7 her son left behind a 5-year-old son. Angeline Hubbard said her son doesn’t deserve to die and pleaded for the gunman to surrender to authorities.
Meanwhile the father of 28-year-old Astin Edwards said his son was trying to break up a fight before the shooting erupted. Dwayne Edwards told the news station the shooting was senseless, and that he shouldn’t have to bury his own son.
Police in the coastal city of Torrance are trying to determine what led to the shooting. No suspects have been identified.
Russia: Too early to consider exchange of US spy suspect
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s deputy foreign minister is brushing back suggestions that an American being held in Moscow on suspicion of spying could be exchanged for a Russian.
Paul Whelan, who also holds Canadian, British and Irish citizenship, was detained in late December. His arrest has led to speculation that Russia could be using him as a pawn to exchange for Maria Butina, the Russian who pleaded guilty last month to acting as a foreign agent in the United States.
But deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said Saturday that discussing the issue would be premature because Whelan hasn’t been formally charged, according to Russian news agencies.
Some Russian news reports earlier had cited unnamed sources as saying Whelan had been indicted on charges that could bring 20 years in prison if convicted.
MILITARY BASES-CONTAMINATED GROUNDWATER
Some fear groundwater near Georgia military bases is toxic
(Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com)
ATLANTA (AP) — There are fears that groundwater near Georgia military bases could remain contaminated from a toxic firefighting foam used for decades by the U.S. Air Force.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that recent tests at Georgia’s three air bases show extensive environmental contamination of groundwater.
Environmentalists say that contamination from the foam exposed Georgia communities to chemicals linked to cancer and a variety of other health problems.
The Air Force has said that Georgia’s drinking water is safe for the thousands of people living around its installations.
But experts and nearby residents question those findings, saying the military’s review was too narrow and failed to test water off-base.
Former Defense Secretary Harold Brown dies at 91
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Rand Corp. says the defense secretary during the Carter administration, Harold Brown, has died.
The think tank which Brown served as a trustee says he died Friday at the age of 91.
Brown guided the Pentagon through a turbulent period that included the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian hostage crisis. He later said that he considered the failed attempt to rescue the hostages, in which eight U.S. service members died, his “greatest regret and most painful lesson learned.”
Brown successfully campaigned to increase the Pentagon budget during his term, despite skepticism inside the White House and Congress. He also oversaw efforts to modernize U.S. defense systems with weapons that included precision-guided cruise missiles, stealth aircraft, advanced satellite surveillance and improved communications and intelligence systems.
Paris protesters try to revive yellow vest movement
PARIS (AP) — Hundreds of protesters are trying to breathe new life into France’s apparently waning yellow vest movement with marches in Paris and gatherings in other cities, but numbers appeared down on their first demonstration of the new year.
There were no reports of violence on the eighth consecutive Saturday of yellow vest protests, in contrast to some December demonstrations that degenerated into chaotic violence. Paris Metro lines were open.
Authorities have warned that they won’t tolerate illegal acts. One known figure in the movement, Eric Drouet, was detained overnight this week for allegedly organizing an illegal demonstration. On Friday, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said those still protesting “want insurrection.”
The movement is named after fluorescent vests French motorists must keep in cars.
POLICE OFFICER KILLED-CALIFORNIA-THE LATEST
The Latest: Funeral held in California for slain officer
MODESTO, Calif. (AP) — A moment of silence, followed by Scottish bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace,” marked the beginning of funeral services Saturday for a slain police officer in central California.
Cpl. Ronil (row-neel) Singh was shot and killed in the early hours after Christmas during a traffic stop in the small town of Newman. Authorities say the suspect was in the country illegally. He has been charged with murder in the case.
Singh, who emigrated from his native Fiji to pursue a career in law enforcement, joined the 12-member Newman police force seven years ago.
The town’s police chief, Randy Richardson, said Singh worked his way up to become a police officer. The tearful chief told mourners Singh had immense pride in America and the opportunities given to him.
Luck has 2 TDs to lead Colts over Texans 21-7 in wild card
HOUSTON (AP) — Andrew Luck threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns and the Indianapolis Colts raced out to a big lead and cruised to a 21-7 win over the Houston Texans in the wild-card game on Saturday.
Luck put on a show in his hometown, throwing for 191 yards and two touchdowns before halftime to help the Colts (11-6) build a 21-0 lead.
Indianapolis advances to face the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round next weekend.
Houston (11-6), which overcame a 0-3 start to win the AFC South, gave up too many big plays and couldn’t get anything going on offense in the first half to fall into the huge hole.
Deshaun Watson, who was sacked an NFL-leading 62 times in the regular season, was sacked three times and hit eight more times in a disappointing playoff debut. He finished with 235 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception.
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