TRUMP-BORDER SECURITY-THE LATEST
The Latest: House passes border bill, sends to Trump’s desk
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hard-fought legislation that gives President Donald Trump 55 additional miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border — well short of what he requested — is on the way to his desk after a bipartisan House vote.
The bill also closes a chapter by preventing a second government shutdown at midnight Friday and by providing $333 billion to finance several Cabinet agencies through September.
Trump has indicated he’ll sign the measure though he is not happy with it, and for a few hours Thursday he was reportedly having second thoughts.
The White House has announced Trump will declare a national emergency that would enable him to transfer funding from other accounts for additional miles of border fencing.
The Latest: Arlington says it’s sticking to its Amazon plans
NEW YORK (AP) — Arlington, Virginia, doesn’t expect its plans to build a new Amazon headquarters to change, even though Amazon has scuttled a plan to build a headquarters in New York.
After a yearlong search for second headquarters, Amazon announced in November that it would split its new headquarters between New York and Arlington, with both getting 25,000 jobs.
Arlington County Board Chairman Christian Dorsey said county officials spoke with Amazon earlier Thursday.
He said nothing has changed from Arlington’s perspective, noting that the company’s deal with Virginia always included a provision that would allow Amazon to bring up to 37,850 jobs over the next 20 years. Amazon said Thursday that it wasn’t looking to replace New York at this time, but planned to continue hiring in other offices around the country and Canada.
Dorsey said the county would be able to accommodate that many Amazon jobs in its Crystal City neighborhood, and that county planners had long anticipated that kind of influx, whether from a single company like Amazon or a host of companies. The neighborhood, which is adjacent to the Pentagon, lost tens of thousands of government jobs a decade ago under a realignment of military facilities.
“We are moving forward as we had planned,” Dorsey said. “Nothing has changed.”
TRUMP-HOTEL CHAINS SCRAPPED
Trump Org scraps plans for 2 hotel chains, blaming politics
NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump’s company is scrapping plans for two new hotel chains announced two years ago, casting blame in part on a hostile political environment.
The Trump Organization says that it will no longer try to open hotels under its Scion and American Idea brands catering to budget and mid-priced travelers, a departure from its focus on luxury, high-cost hotels. The announcement Thursday comes as the company has posted losses at some of its golf properties and brand experts say it has lost some of its appeal.
Trump’s son Eric Trump says in a statement that the media and the Democrats are attacking constantly, and that the company has decided to “slow down” for the time being.
Avenatti says he has new video evidence against R. Kelly
CHICAGO (AP) — Attorney Michael Avenatti says he has new video evidence of singer R. Kelly having sex with an underage girl.
Avenatti said Thursday he has turned over the video to Chicago prosecutors. Tandra Simonton, spokeswoman for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, wouldn’t confirm or deny the office is investigating.
Avenatti says the video isn’t the same evidence used in Kelly’s 2008 trial, when he was acquitted on child pornography charges. CNN reported the video shows a man appearing to be Kelly performing sex acts with a girl who refers to her body parts as 14 years old.
Kelly’s attorney, who has denied previous allegations of sexual misconduct, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Foxx asked potential victims to come forward last month after Lifetime aired a documentary revisiting the allegations.
PORTLAND-POLICE-RIGHT WING EXTREMISTS
Portland official: texts show police-extremist collusion
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A member of Portland’s city council said she is not shocked by a newspaper report that the commander for the police rapid response team exchanged friendly text messages with a leader of far-right protests that have rocked the city.
Councilwoman Jo Ann Hardesty said the reporting Thursday in Willamette Week confirms some Portland police work in collusion with right-wing extremists.
Willamette Week obtained text messages through a public records request between Lt. Jeff Niiya and Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson. The texts purportedly show Niiya had a friendly rapport with Gibson, frequently discussing Gibson’s plans to demonstrate.
In one text reported by the newspaper, Niiya tells Gibson that he doesn’t see a need to arrest his brawling assistant even if he has a warrant, unless the assistant commits a new crime.
Fentanyl deaths from ‘Mexican oxy’ pills hit Arizona hard
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Illicit fentanyl smuggled from Mexico into the Southwest has become a profitable new business for drug gangs, helping push the synthetic opioid to the top spot for fatal U.S. overdoses.
Fentanyl powder and sky blue pills known as “Mexican oxy” are being distributed around the U.S. as the drug surpasses heroin for overdose deaths.
But some stays behind in Arizona and other southwestern states, making the region bordering Mexico a hot spot in the nation’s fentanyl crisis and affecting all demographic groups.
Among those killed by the fentanyl pills was Aaron Francisco Chavez, a 19-year-old from Tucson who was a prep cook and dreamed of become a chef to support his young daughter.
He died after taking at least one pill at a Halloween party.
SCHOOL SHOOTING-FLORIDA-LIFE IN SCHOOL
Parkland massacre reshapes K-12 in Florida
OKEECHOBEE, Fla. (AP) — The Parkland High School massacre upended school life in Florida.
In the year since a gunman fatally shot 14 students and three teachers, the state’s districts have reshaped the K-12 experience. They have adopted new rules for entering campus, hired more police and conducted frequent safety drills. Some schools have created teams of armed employees to confront attackers.
Allen White is a senior at the lone high school in the central Florida farming town of Okeechobee. He says after the Parkland attack, his school’s atmosphere changed. Now students have difficulty trusting classmates.
Meanwhile, teachers worry that the added security detracts from learning. And in Miami, parents complain that schools have lost a sense of community.
EMPIRE CAST MEMBER-ATTACK-THE LATEST
The Latest: Show producers: Smollett not being written off
CHICAGO (AP) — Producers of the television drama “Empire” are disputing reports that Jussie Smollett’s character is being written off the show.
Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released a statement Thursday night calling the reports “patently ridiculous.” The statement says Smollett “remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”
The statement comes after Chicago police said local media reports that the attack against Smollett was a hoax are unconfirmed.
Smollett has said two masked men shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him before beating him and putting a rope around his neck when he was walking downtown early on Jan. 29.
Risk of flooding, mudslides remains after California storm
SAUSALITO, Calif. (AP) — Authorities warn that mudslides are still possible even after a damaging storm moved through California.
April Newman, spokeswoman for Riverside County Fire Department, says crews will continue damage assessments Friday.
The powerful system unleashed rain, snow and wind across the U.S. West into Wyoming and Colorado.
In California, roads were washed away, people were trapped in rising floodwaters and debris flows destroyed homes. At least two deaths were reported: a man who was paddle-boarding down a surging storm channel in Escondido and a woman who suffered a heart attack while being rescued from rising waters in Corona.
Some evacuation warnings remain in place for neighborhoods near wildfire burn areas southeast of Los Angeles.
ICE halts force-feeding of immigrant detainees
The U.S. government has suddenly stopped force-feeding all nine Indian immigrants on a hunger strike inside an El Paso immigration detention center, according to local reports Thursday.
The dramatic reversal comes as public pressure was mounting on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to halt the controversial practice, which involves feeding detainees through nasal tubes against their will. Last week, the United Nations human rights office said the force-feeding of immigrant hunger strikers at the facility could violate the U.N. Convention Against Torture.
On Wednesday, a U.S. district judge said the government had to stop force-feeding two of the detained Indian immigrants, but warned that if their health started to decline he would consider ordering force-feeding again, their attorney said Thursday. The next day, all force-feeding at the detention center near the El Paso airport stopped, according to reports in the El Paso Times and Texas Monthly .
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