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    With no resolution of an over month-long partial government shutdown that has blocked paychecks for over 800,000 federal workers, Democratic leaders in the House said on Wednesday that they would not sign off on the scheduled State of the Union Address by President Donald Trump next Tuesday, unless shuttered federal agencies are re-opened before the original scheduled date for the speech, January 29. “Unless the government is re-opened, it is highly unlikely the State of the Union will take place on the floor of the House,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the head of the House Democratic Caucus. The comments of Jeffries came just after a closed door meeting of House Democrats, in which Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged rank-in-file Democrats to stick together on the shutdown, as Democrats continue to argue that no negotiations should take place on funding border security until the government has been funded. In private caucus meeting, Pelosi urged her caucus to stay united and stick with the plan, referring to reopen government first before border security talks, per sources. She emphasized to caucus that they are more powerful when they are united, not when they are freelancing. — Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 23, 2019 While Democrats want the government to open first, Republicans, and the President, say the opposite should take place – that negotiations on border security should go first, before the partial government shutdown is ended. GOP leaders scoffed at the idea that the State of the Union should be postponed simply because of the funding dispute, which began before Christmas. “It doesn’t matter what crisis America had in the past, we were able to still have a State of the Union,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the House Republican leader. House GOP leaders argued that Democrats were at fault for the partial shutdown – which has now stretched for 33 days – as they demanded that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offer a plan for extra border security measures. Not one time has Nancy Pelosi come forward with an alternative,” said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the second-ranking Republican in the House. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says the State of the Union address should be held 'in the House chamber just as it has done for generations before us' https://t.co/No7mzAhmGm pic.twitter.com/FYc5xsjodp — This Week (@ThisWeekABC) January 23, 2019 While the House on Wednesday was ready to approve more funding bills from Democrats to fully fund the government, most eyes were still on the Senate, where leaders set two votes for Thursday – one on a GOP plan that mirrored the President’s immigration proposal set forth last weekend, and a second plan from Democrats which would fund the government until February 8. The White House has already threatened to veto that Democratic plan; officials on Wednesday morning issued a letter in which they said President Trump would sign the GOP proposal. But Republicans would need the votes of seven Democrats to get 60 votes to proceed to that bill; for now, that seems unlikely.
  • A Muslim group called Wednesday for full prosecutions against the four people accused of plotting an attack on their rural enclave in upstate New York. The arrests of three Rochester-area men and a 16-year-old who had access to homemade explosives and firearms sent shockwaves through the community of Islamberg, The Muslims of America said in a prepared statement. The small community has been dogged by allegations on right-wing websites that it is a terrorist training camp, and it was the target of a similar plot in 2015. 'It is beyond tragic that our nation continues to fester with Islamophobia, hate and religious intolerance,' the group said in a prepared statement. 'To bring justice and properly deter similar terrorist plots against our community, we are calling for the individuals charged, as well as their accomplices, to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.' Authorities in suburban Rochester on Tuesday announced weapons possession and conspiracy charges against Brian Colaneri, 20; Andrew Crysel, 18; and Vincent Vetromile, 19. A 16-year-old student at Odyssey Academy in Greece, a Rochester suburb, was charged as an adolescent offender. Suspects are due in court Wednesday morning. It was unclear whether the suspects had lawyers to speak for them yet, and attempts to reach relatives to comment weren't successful. At the time of their weekend arrests, the men, three of whom were in Boy Scouts together, had access to 23 rifles and shotguns and three homemade explosives, Greece police said. Investigators uncovered the plot after a student reported a suspicious comment in a lunchroom Friday. The Muslims of America are followers of Sheikh Mubarik Gilani and run 22 communities in North America. The mostly African-American settlers of Islamberg first came to upstate New York in the 1980s to escape crime and crowding in New York City. Police and analysts have dismissed accusations that the community — 120 miles (190 kilometers) southeast of Rochester — is a terrorist training ground. But the claims have persisted for decades . In 2017, a Tennessee man was convicted on federal charges for what authorities called plans to burn down Islamberg's mosque in 2015. Robert Doggart, now 67, is serving time in federal prison.
  • A commission formed by Congress in 2016 to answer questions about the military draft said Wednesday it can’t yet say whether women should be required to register for the draft along with men. >> Read more trending news The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service released its interim report online Wednesday and discussed its findings in a press conference at the Newseum in Washington, DC. “(The National Commission on Service) is still considering adding women to the Selective Service roles for a possible draft, but no final recommendation yet,” tweeted Leo Shane III, a Military Times editor who attended the press conference. The commission is also looking to answer how to get more people, men or women, to participate in public service. Its ideas to do so include creating more local volunteer opportunities in high school, simplifying the process for applying to federal jobs, better promoting federal service organizations like the Peace Corps and using the Selective Service System to better identify recruits for the military, according to the Military Times. Under current law, all male U.S. citizens between 18 and 25 years of age are required to register with the Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday, according to the Selective Service System website. Lawmakers created the commission in 2016 after the House refused to approve a Senate proposal to expand the draft to women, USA Today reported. The 11-member bipartisan commission researched the selective service by soliciting comments online and by traveling the country and holding a series of public meetings, according to its website. The commission’s conclusions are only advisory; whether to implement them would be up to the president and Congress. 'Personally, I don’t think we will remain with the status quo,' commission Chairman Joe Heck told USA Today regarding women and the draft. 'But where we end up on the spectrum is yet to be determined.” The commission will continue to seek public comment through March 2020. More information can be found at the commission’s website, https://www.inspire2serve.gov/. The entire interim report can be found here.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sat down for Syria-focused talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday as their governments bargain over zones of influence in the war-torn country. The leaders share strong opposition to the U.S. military presence in Syria, seeing it as an obstacle to their clout in the war-torn country. The Kremlin meeting marked their first meeting since U.S. President Donald Trump announced the pullout in a Dec. 19 tweet. Putin and Erdogan called each other 'dear friend' while exchanging greetings at the start of the talks, hailing the close ties between their countries and their importance for regional security. Russia and Iran have helped Syrian President Bashar Assad to win back control of most of the country, while Turkey has backed Assad's foes during the nearly eight-year conflict. Despite that, the three countries have teamed up to broker a peace deal for Syria, united by their shared desire to undercut the U.S. influence in the region. The agreement is now tested by Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw from Syria that has left Moscow, Ankara and Tehran jockeying for influence in the country. Russia says it expects Assad's government to take over Kurdish-held border regions east of the Euphrates River following the planned U.S. troop withdrawal from the area, while Turkey objects to the prospect. Ankara strongly supports the creation of a 32-kilometer (20-mile) 'safe zone' in northeastern Syria to ensure that Syrian Kurdish militia — The People's Protection Units, or YPG, which Turkey considers to be a 'terrorist group' for its ties to outlawed Kurdish rebels inside Turkey — is kept away from the Turkish border. Moscow has signaled it could be open for discussions on the Turkish push for carving out the zone, but warned that it's essential that the Syrian government takes over areas currently controlled by the U.S. and its Kurdish allies. Turkey fears any deal between the Syrian government and the YPG in the border area as well as in the strategic town of Manbij, under which the Kurdish militia would remain a threat to Turkey's security. Russia appears eager to sponsor Damascus' talks with the Kurds in the hope that it would extend the Syrian government's gains and further cement its hold on the country. The U.S. withdrawal has further bolstered Russia's role as the top power broker in Syria. Syrian pro-government paper Al-Watan reported Tuesday that a Kurdish delegation arrived in Moscow a day before Erdogan. There was no independent confirmation yet from Kurdish officials. At the same time, Putin appears willing to accommodate Turkish security interests in Syria, seeing strong ties with Turkey as an essential counterbalance to the U.S. clout in the region. Russian and Turkish interests also collide in the northwestern province of Idlib, which is packed with 3 million people, including many who were displaced from other parts of the country. Last September, Putin and Erdogan struck a de-escalation deal on Idlib that averted the Syrian offensive that sparked fears of a humanitarian catastrophe. The agreement created a security zone free of heavy weapons and monitored by Turkish troops to halt fighting. Turkey is pushing for that deal to stay, fearing that the Syrian government forces are trying to undermine the agreement. Russia, in its turn, has urged Turkey to act more resolutely in reining in militants in Idlib who have launched attacks on Syrian government forces and the Russian military. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova charged Wednesday that al-Qaida linked militants have effectively taken control of the area, noting that the escalation of hostilities in Idlib threatens the Russian air base in the neighboring coastal province of Latakia. ___ Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey and Sarah El Deeb in Beirut contributed to this report.
  • Students at an Arkansas high school was suspended for a shirt and face paint depicting the Confederate flag, KARK reported. >> Read more trending news  Students at Fayetteville High School said they were showing off the stars and bars to support the #History Not Hate, but school administrators were not buying that explanation, the television station reported. The students were given a choice to remove the flags or be sent home. One student was given an out-of-school suspension, KARK reported. 'We're not trying to trample on their first amendment rights we're just trying to have a safe and orderly school environment,' Principal Jay Dosal told the television station School district rules note that “attire that disrupts the educational process or otherwise interferes with the rights or opportunities of others to learn or teach is considered improper and unacceptable,” KARK reported. 'None of us are racist, none of us are doing it for hate it's Southern pride and we're not going to take it off for anyone, it's our flag, it's Arkansas,” one student told the television station. “This is the South.” 
  • Canada's ambassador to China says a top Chinese executive has a strong case to avoid extradition to the United States. Ambassador John McCallum told Chinese language media in Markham, Ontario on Tuesday that Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has 'quite good arguments' including 'political involvement by comments from Donald Trump on her case.' Canada arrested the daughter of Huawei's founder at the request of the U.S. on Dec. 1. She is wanted on fraud charges that she misled banks about the company's business dealings in Iran. Trump said last month he might abandon the Meng case in pursuit of a trade deal with Beijing. That led some to suggest the case has been politicized and the U.S. is loosening its commitment to the rule of law and an independent judiciary.
  • Phoenix police say a licensed practical nurse has been arrested on a charge of sexual assault in the impregnation of an incapacitated woman who gave birth last month at a long-term health care facility. Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said Wednesday that investigators arrested 36-year-old Nathan Sutherland on one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse. Williams says Sutherland worked at the Hacienda HealthCare facility where the woman lived and had been providing care to her. The 29-year-old victim has been incapacitated since the age of 3 and gave birth to a boy at the facility on Dec. 29. Employees said they had no idea she was pregnant. Court records say her last known physical was in April.
  • Cardi B will have her first Last Vegas residency this spring. Palms Casino Resort announced Wednesday the 26-year-old singer's appearance as part of its debut of KAOS, a dayclub and nightclub amphitheater-style complex that is set to open in April. Above and Beyond, G-EAZY, Kaskade and Skrillex are among the other artists who will have exclusive residencies at the complex. KAOS is part of the Palms' $690 million renovation that features state-of-the-art technology designed to enhance performances including a rotating 360-degree DJ booth. Tickets for select dates are available.
  • The Latest on the partial government shutdown (all times local): 10:15 a.m. The White House isn't saying whether President Donald Trump will veto a bill that's in the Senate to reopen the government through Feb. 8 while negotiations continue over his demand for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. But press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also didn't say that Trump would sign the bill. Sanders declined on Wednesday to 'get into hypotheticals' over the bill, which has been passed by the Democratic-controlled House and is due for a vote Thursday in the Republican-led Senate. Sanders says Trump put forward a plan that doesn't kick the problem down the road. She was referring to a bill also set for a Senate vote Thursday reflecting Trump's offer to trade border wall funding for temporary protection for some immigrants. Democrats have rejected the plan. Trump says a border wall is non-negotiable. ___ 12:15 a.m. Two different votes are set in the Republican-controlled Senate with the aim to end the partial government shutdown. One vote Thursday will be on a bill reflecting President Donald Trump's demand for border wall funding in exchange for temporary protections for some immigrants. A second vote is set for a measure already passed by the Democratic-controlled House to reopen the government through Feb. 8. It doesn't allow money for a border wall but gives bargainers more time to talk. Neither bill is expected to advance under Senate rules requiring at least 60 votes. Senate Democrats have dismissed Trump's proposal, and it's unclear whether Senate Republicans will back Trump's insistence that the government remain closed until lawmakers allocate $5.7 billion for his long-promised border wall with Mexico.
  • Initial details of the reported daylight kidnapping of an elderly woman with links to Austro-Hungarian nobility made the apparent abduction in a small Austrian city sound like something out of a movie. As 88-year-old Magdolna Theresia Ottrubay walked along a main Eisenstadt street named for her noble relatives, two black sedans with foreign plates screeched up to her, according to the initial police report. A woman and a man got out of one car and looked on while a woman from the second vehicle pushed Ottrubay's nurse aside and forced the wealthy kidnap quarry into a sedan that then sped away, the report stated. More than 100 police officers were dispatched Tuesday to search for Ottrubay and her alleged abductor, described as a tall, thin woman wearing a winter hat over her blond hair. But Burgenland state police said Wednesday that a few hours after they started searching, they had received a call from Ottrubay's daughter reporting her mother safe and with her at home in Tirol. After speaking with Ottrubay herself, police said she confirmed the cars simply picked her up in Eisenstadt and she departed voluntarily. The police in Austria said they were still trying to reconcile the different accounts of the 'motive and circumstances' of the Tuesday incident on Esterhazy Street and had no further comment. Ottrubay is the mother of Stefan Ottrubay, a part of the Esterhazy family, Hungarian nobility whose main seat was Eisenstadt in today's Austria. His aunt, Melinda Esterhazy, was married to Paul Esterhazy, the last of the family to officially carry the title of prince. After Paul died in 1989, Melinda inherited his wealth and later appointed Stefan Ottrubay as director of the Esterhazy Foundation. The foundation administers Esterhazy family properties, including Eisenstadt's Schloss Esterhazy, a popular tourist attraction. Melinda Esterhazy died in 2014. Austrian media reported the properties include tens of thousands of acres of land and are overall worth more than 810 million euros ($920 million).
  • Denver teachers voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to go on strike after more than a year of negotiations over base pay. Rob Gould, lead negotiator for the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, said 93 percent of unionized teachers voted in favor of a strike. The union represents 5,635 educators in the Denver Public School system, which could see a strike as soon as Monday. “They’re striking for better pay, they’re striking for our profession and they’re striking for Denver students,” Gould said. The main sticking point was increasing base pay, including lessening teachers’ reliance on one-time bonuses for things such as having students with high test scores or working in a high-poverty school. Teachers also wanted to earn more for continuing their education.
  • With no evidence that President Donald Trump’s weekend speech on immigration and a border wall had changed the dynamic in Congress related to a partial government shutdown, Senate leaders set a pair of votes on competing plans from Democrats and Republicans for Thursday afternoon, the first time Senate Republicans have allowed votes to end the shutdown since before Christmas. “The President’s made a comprehensive and bipartisan offer,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “It’s a strong proposal, it’s the only thing on the table.” “It was not a good faith proposal. It was not intended to end the shutdown,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer. “The President’s proposal is one-sided.” The political jousting came as representatives of federal workers – who seem likely to go without a paycheck again this Friday – urged the Congress and the President to fully fund the government, and then settle their differences over border security spending. Your Coast Guard leadership team & the American people stand in awe of your continued dedication to duty, resilience, & that of your families. I find it unacceptable that @USCG members must rely on food pantries & donations to get through day-to-day life. #uscg pic.twitter.com/TZ9ppUidyO — Admiral Karl Schultz (@ComdtUSCG) January 23, 2019 “Every family in the FBI has mortgages, car payments, bills that come in at the end of the month,” said Tom O’Connor, the head of the FBI Agents Association. “You have to pay those. Try doing that without a paycheck,” O’Connor told a Washington news conference. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration announced it was calling more federal employees back to work – as the Department of Agriculture said Farm Service Agency offices would resume operations on Thursday. “The FSA provides vital support for farmers and ranchers and they count on those services being available,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Farmers have complained for weeks that the lack of FSA offices was hampering all sorts of work, like applying for bailout payments related to retaliatory tariffs against the U.S., filing paperwork for operating loans, and a variety of other crop programs. But those Farm Service Agency workers won’t be paid until the Congress resolves the shutdown. Good News: @USDA just announced that all Farm Service Agency offices will reopen beginning Thursday, January 24th and offer expanded services to #Ag producers. More information and a list of services here: https://t.co/o8oiQkdnaS — Senator Deb Fischer (@SenatorFischer) January 22, 2019 Back on Capitol Hill, there were no signs that the President’s immigration offer from Saturday was going to break the gridlock over Mr. Trump call for $5.7 billion in border security funding. But the mere fact that there were going to be votes in the Senate related to the shutdown – the first votes on government funding since before Christmas – was seen by some as a welcome event. “I’m pleased that the gears of the legislative process are moving,” said Matt Glassman, a fellow at the Georgetown University Government Affairs Institute. Senate leaders agreed to two procedural votes on Thursday – with 60 votes needed – first on the President’s border plan, plus funding for the federal government, and then on a Democratic plan which combines disaster aid with a plan to simply fund shuttered agencies through February 8. For Glassman and a few others – the decision to set those votes so that Republicans would go first, and then Democrats second, raised questions about whether GOP Senators might vote first to approve money for a border wall, and then also vote to re-open the government, despite the President’s opposition. 1/ My Twitter feed tells me it's folly to think that Thursday's second cloture vote (open government with a 2-week CR) will get 60 votes (47 D + 13 R). I'm not so sure. Just because only 10 GOP signed a bipartisan letter doesn't mean that's the full lid on GOP votes. — Sarah Binder (@bindersab) January 22, 2019 A spokesman for the Senate Majority Leader rejected that idea, saying that Sen. McConnell was against the Democratic plan – but the schedule on Thursday does give GOP Senators the option to first vote for the border wall funding – and when that fails – then vote to re-open the government for about two weeks.
  • It's one thing to WATCH a show like Game of Thrones, but it’s something else to take a swing at an actual sword fight! Tomorrow night starting at 6:00 p.m., the Flying Tee driving range in Jenks is hosting a fundraiser for Tulsa Tyrants, a team in the Armored Combat League, which is just what it sounds like. These guys put on suits of armor and fight with real swords and battle axes and maces. League rules mandate that they dull the edges on the weapons, but they still pack a punch. Once they're done fighting, they'll walk out to the range and raise money by letting people buy chances to hit golf balls at them! They'll then cap the night by having a watch party for the new TV show on the History Channel called Knight Fight, which is all about sword-fighting competitions. You can find out more about the event here.
  • The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma hosted an event designed to help federal workers who are furloughed or working without pay as a result of the ongoing partial federal shutdown. CFBEO Executive Director Eileen Bradshaw told KRMG her agency was contacted by federal “These are folks who don’t need to navigate the charitable assistance system,” she told KRMG Tuesday, pointing out that many of them don’t even know where to start. “211 is a real treasure for folks who find themselves in this situation,” she added. “If they need something other than food, they can call 211, explain what the need is, chances are there’s someone in our community who’s willing to help.” She told KRMG people lined up at 2:00 p.m. for the event, which ran from 3:00 to 7:00 so that both day and evening workers could make time to take advantage of the free food. KRMG spoke with federal workers who said they’d never expected to need food assistance, and had never visited a food bank before. But they were extremely grateful for the assistance.
  • Two former University of Oklahoma students publicly apologized Tuesday for a video posted on Twitter last week. One of the girls on the video was in black face and made a racial slur. The university released the statements from Frances Ford and Olivia Urban.  Urban called the video 'the most regrettable decision of my life' and says there's no excuse for such behavior 'in private or public.'  Ford says the video was 'insensitive and irresponsible.' University President James Gallogly announced Monday that both women had voluntarily withdrawn from campus. Students held a rally on campus Tuesday demanding action from campus administrators.