Trump signs bill to reopen government for 3 weeksJOHN PARKINSON, TRISH TURNER and MERIDITH MCGRAW•Trump signs bill to reopen government for 3 weeks originally appeared on abcnews.go.comLate Friday night, President Donald Trump signed a bill passed by Congress that officially reopens the federal government for three weeks while lawmakers negotiate border security funding with the president — ending the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.”I am very proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government,” Trump said earlier on Friday, in a surprise development that thrilled hundreds of thousands of federal workers that have been toiling without pay for more than a month.The bill passed by Congress, sources told ABC News, includes no funding for the president’s long-sought border wall.The president said earlier on Friday that while has decided not to declare a national emergency at this time, he has the ability to do so if members of Congress do not work on a deal for border security.”If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government either shut down on February 15th again or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the constitution of the United States to address this emergency,” Trump said.Later on Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted that the administration would move forward in three weeks with building a wall.Sarah Sanders@PressSec In 21 days President @realDonaldTrump is moving forward building the wall with or without the Democrats. The only outstanding question is whether the Democrats want something or nothingDonald J. Trump@realDonaldTrumpI wish people would read or listen to my words on the Border Wall. This was in no way a concession. It was taking care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the Shutdown with the understanding that in 21 days, if no deal is done, it’s off to the races! While the president has been slim on the details of the agreement, he did reference a conference committee of House and Senate leaders will act in “good faith” to reach an agreement on border security.PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, Jan 25, 2019, in Washington. (Evan Vucci/AP)“Over the next 21 days, I expect both Democrats and Republicans will operate in good faith. This is an opportunity for all parties to work together for the benefit of our whole, beautiful and wonderful nation,” Trump said.The president and members of his administration have been criticized for their responses to the financial hardships faced by many federal workers missing pay. But on Friday the president specifically thanked federal workers who have endured the shutdown and said he will see to it that they receive back-pay „very quickly or as soon as possible.”(MORE: Federal workers miss 2nd paychecks as shutdown continues)„I want to thank all of the incredible federal workers and their amazing families who have shown such extraordinary devotion in the face of this recent hardship,” Trump said.It’s unclear exactly when federal workers could begin to see their back pay, but the White House said workers should expected to be paid in the „coming days.” Over 800,000 federal workers were furloughed or worked with pay during the shutdown, forcing some to turn to food banks, charities and even put on fundraisers to make ends meet.”Recognizing the urgency of getting Federal employees paid quickly, the administration is taking steps to ensure that they receive pay as soon as possible. Since specific payroll issues vary by agency, employees can find more information about paycheck details by reaching out to their agency,” a senior administration official told ABC News. The president of the National Treasury Employees Union Tony Reardon said checks should go out as soon as possible. “Get the checks out now. Federal employees haven’t been paid in more than a month and mortgage and rent are due next week. They shouldn’t have to wait a minute longer,” he said.Congress has been trying to come to a deal to reopen the government, ending the longest shutdown in U.S. history.After Democrats rejected a proposal to temporarily reopen government with a pro-rated amount of border wall funding Thursday evening, Sen. Lindsey Grahamtold reporters Friday morning that Republican senators were looking to the White House to decide the next move.(MORE: Flights delayed in New York and Florida due to air traffic control absences, ground stop at LaGuardia Airport: FAA)Bipartisan talks about a possible short-term compromise – a three-week stopgap funding bill to reopen the government – began late Thursday between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.(MORE: Possible short-term compromise brewing on ending shutdown, Trump wants wall ‘down payment’)A Senate Republican leadership aide says the GOP is „very wary” of President Trump, pointing out McConnell has been stung by Trump before. The aide is adamant that the president won’t announce a “McConnell deal” – this is a “President-Democrats deal.”PHOTO: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence listen to President Donald Trump announce a deal to end the government shutdown in the Rose Garden of the White House, Jan. 25, 2019. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)In a press conference on Capitol Hill, Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi thanked federal workers for enduring the 35 day shutdown that appeared to have no end in sight.”We cannot ever hold American workers hostage again,” Schumer said.”The American people do not like it when you throw a wrench into the lives of government workers over an unrelated political dispute,” Schumer said. „Working people throughout America empathized with the federal workers and were aghast at what the president was doing to them. Hopefully, now the president is learned his lesson.”Pelosi, who was able to make the president capitulate on postponing his State of the Union address, said she is „optimistic” that the government will not shut down again after February 15.(MORE: Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says he doesn’t ‘understand’ why federal workers lining up at food banks)„I can’t assure the public on anything that the president will do, but I do have to say I’m optimistic. I see every challenge or every crisis as an opportunity, an opportunity to do the right thing for the American people and at the same time make people aware of what the decisions are that we have here and hopefully that will make everybody come together in a way that is unifying for our country,” Pelosi said.After weeks of political tit-for-tat and a stare off between the president and Pelosi, Schumer said that the president’s decision today shows that „no one should ever underestimate the speaker, as Donald Trump has learned.”Two sources close to Pelosi say she has not spoken to Trump since he walked out of a meeting in the Situation Room with congressional leaders on January 10.Still, the president expressed optimism that a deal on border security could be reached with Democrats.“I think we have a chance, yeah. I think we have a good chance. We’ll work with the Democrats and negotiate and if we can’t do that, then we’ll do a – obviously, we’ll do the emergency because that’s what it is. It’s a national emergency,” Trump said.After the measure passed both chambers of Congress, House Whip Steny Hoyer stood on the floor and summed up the protracted saga.”I hope the experience of the last 35 days has taught us that we should never repeat this exercise of shutting down the government ever again.”
Demonstrators in Caracas rally against Nicolas Maduro, who the United States has declared to be illegimate as the president of Venezuela
Washington (AFP) – President Donald Trump has intervened in an unusually forceful way in Venezuela’s political crisis, but whether the United States can force a change of power remains to be seen.
Trump — who has largely shunned democracy promotion overseas and is pulling troops from Syria and Afghanistan as part of an „American First” worldview — on Wednesday recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president.
Backed by most but not all Latin American powers, Trump said that leftist firebrand Nicolas Maduro was illegitimate, even as the military leadership continues to support him as Venezuela’s rightful leader.
„Venezuela is in our hemisphere, I think we have a special responsibility here, and I think the president feels very strongly about it,” Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said Thursday.
– Why did Trump get involved? –
Bolton’s remark came in response to a question about why Trump had abandoned Maduro, when he has embraced other authoritarian leaders.
Trump has shown no reluctance in allying the United States with countries whose human rights records are questionable such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and has eagerly negotiated with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
But Maduro, like his predecessor Hugo Chavez, has relished poking his finger in the eye of the United States and regularly rails against US imperialism in Latin America.
A Trump administration official justified the recognition of Guaido by saying that Venezuela, whose elections last year were widely criticized as flawed, was bound by a commitment to democracy made in the 2001 Inter-American Democratic Charter.
Mariano de Alba, a Venezuelan lawyer and international affairs expert based in Washington, however suggested that Trump was under pressure from Florida’s large and mostly anti-Maduro Venezuelan community, which includes naturalized US citizens.
The Venezuela crisis also gives Trump a way „to highlight the effects of socialism and the importance of capitalism,” said De Alba, who works for the analytical news site Prodavinci.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has taken a lead on Latin America policy in Trump’s Republican Party and has pushed for a hard line both on Venezuela and Cuba. Bolton, of course, is a longtime hawk.
„His administration doesn’t pick and choose friends based on whether they’re authoritarians,” Stephen Pomper, director of the US program at the International Crisis Group and an adviser on human rights to former president Barack Obama, said of Trump.
„It picks and chooses which authoritarians to criticize based on whether or not they’re friends.”
– What more can the US do? –
Bolton said that the key focus for the United States was „disconnecting the illegitimate Maduro regime from the source of its revenues.”
Venezuela is Latin America’s largest producer of oil, whose declining price has worsened the spiraling economic crisis in the country, where many residents lack basic foods and medicine.
Bolton said the United States was looking at ways for the United States to direct revenues to the „legitimate” government of Venezuela, although he acknowledged that the process was complicated.
Washington is also pushing for more countries to break with Maduro.
Britain said Thursday that Maduro was „not the legitimate leader of Venezuela,” although other European allies have been less explicit and Maduro enjoys Russia’s support.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States was preparing $20 million in emergency humanitarian aid which it would direct through the opposition-led National Assembly once it is „logistically feasible.”
The United States could also boost punitive sanctions, which have so far targeted Maduro rather than the broader economy.
Geoff Ramsey of the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights advocacy group, said it was critical that sanctions do not worsen the economic toll on ordinary people, saying that an oil embargo could be counterproductive.
Ramsey also cautioned against „saber-rattling,” which he warned could divide Venezuela’s newly united opposition.
Trump has openly mused of military intervention and said that „all options are on the table.”
– What is the endgame?
Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue group, said that the Trump administration’s actions intensify pressure on Maduro — but also carry risks if the government clamps down.
The United States has ignored Maduro’s orders for its diplomats to leave within 72 hours, saying he is no longer president — presenting an early test on whether Washington can sustain its policy.
„The endgame is which entity is able to gather the strongest support to impose its statements and power in Venezuela,” De Alba said.
„As long as the Maduro regime has the control of the territory and cohesive support of the military, it will have the advantage,” he said.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Emile Griffith, a member of our flight attendant ‘ohana for over 31 years who passed away while working on our flight between Honolulu and New York last night,” Ann Botticelli, an airline spokesperson tells Yahoo Lifestyle in a statement. “We are forever grateful for Emile’s colleagues and good Samaritans on board who stayed by his side and provided extensive medical help. Emile both loved and treasured his job at Hawaiian and always shared that with our guests. Our hearts are with Emile’s family, friends and all those fortunate to have known him. Hawaiian Airlines has made counseling available for his fellow employees.”
A representative of the San Mateo County, Calif., coroner’s office tells Yahoo Lifestyle that Griffin was 60 years old and a resident of Pahoa, Hawaii.
Airline spokesperson Doug Yakel told the Associated Press that Griffin had a “suspected heart attack.”
On Thursday, Griffin was working on Flight 50 when he went into distress. A passenger told Hawaii News Now that the crew performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation “for hours” and a doctor and paramedic assisted with the “sad and very confusing” situation.
Passenger Andrea Bartz, whom Yahoo Lifestyle could not reach for comment, live-tweeted some information.
There are cops, too, and no one’s moving with any urgency and they just had an elderly man with a yarmulke come up to the front. Did someone die?
The passenger also told Hawaii News Now that the crew announced an emergency but didn’t explain. And that after diverting to San Francisco International Airport, the plane was stalled on the runway for almost two hours waiting for the coroner.
All 253 passengers were reassigned available flights and will be compensated, says Botticelli.
SEBRING, Fla. (AP) — A bank employee escaped a massacre that killed five women at a SunTrust branch in Florida, running out a back door when the gunfire began, according to a sheriff’s office.
The employee was in in a back break room when the attack began in the Sebring bank, Highlands County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Scott Dressel said Friday.
„Upon hearing the shots, the employee ran out a back door and contacted law enforcement,” Dressel told The Associated Press. No additional information about the employee was released.
Four SunTrust employees and a customer were killed in the bank’s lobby. Zephen Xaver, 21, was arrested after a standoff with police and now faces five counts of premeditated murder. State Attorney Brian Haas has said it is likely that he will seek the death penalty.
„The death penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst first-degree murder cases. Given what I know about this horrific case, I certainly anticipate that the death penalty will apply,” Haas said in an email to The Ledger .
One of Xaver’s attorneys, assistant public defender Peter Mills, said they have no comment on the case, and Xaver won’t be making any public statements. Xaver’s arraignment is scheduled Feb. 25 in Highlands County court.
SunTrust banks observed a moment of silence Friday afternoon to honor the five women.
In a Facebook post, SunTrust said the moment of silence was scheduled for 12:36 p.m. That was the time on Wednesday when Xaver called 911 and told dispatchers he had shot everyone inside the bank.
The shooting appeared to be a random act, not part of a robbery, and Xaver had no connection to any of the victims, Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund said Thursday at a news conference.
Xaver recently moved from northern Indiana to Sebring, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Tampa. He also recently quit his job as a prison guard trainee.
An Indiana police department released a 2014 report in which Xaver, then 16, said he had dreams of hurting other students in a classroom.
The Bremen Police Department report said the Bremen High School Principal contacted police after Xaver reported having the dream the previous night and again during a nap at school. The report said Xaver’s mother agreed to take him to a behavioral health center. Police took no further action.
Authorities also released log entries of other incidents involving Xaver, including one in March 2017, when Michigan State Police advised that a girl received messages from Xaver indicating he was „possibly thinking of suicide by cop and taking hostages.”
An Indiana woman who identified herself as Xaver’s ex-girlfriend has told reporters that he long had been fascinated with the idea of killing, but no one took her warnings about him seriously. His father told CNN that Xaver „had his troubles, but he has never hurt anyone ever before.”
Police have identified four of the victims: customer Cynthia Watson, 65, and three bank employees: 55-year-old Marisol Lopez, 31-year-old Jessica Montague and 38-year-old Ana Pinon Willliams, a mother of seven.
In compliance with a newly passed victims’ rights law in Florida, police have withheld the name of the fifth victim at the family’s request.
By Gabriela Baczynska and Robin Emmott
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union foreign ministers will discuss in February imposing more sanctions against Russia over a stand-off with Ukraine in the Azov Sea, diplomats said.
The bloc will also issue a demarche — a formal diplomatic protest note — to Moscow as early as next week over Russia’s continued detention of 24 Ukrainian sailors captured during the incident in November, they added.
EU members that have long taken a hard line on Russia, including Lithuania, Sweden, Britain and Poland, are now backed in proposing more sanctions by countries like Denmark and Slovakia. They argue that pressure from France and Germany on Moscow to free the servicemen has not borne fruit.
Berlin and Paris helped negotiate a stalled peace agreement for Ukraine after Russia annexed Crimea from its neighbor in 2014 and then backed rebels fighting government troops in the east of the country.
In December, the two opposed new sanctions, asking for more time to negotiate the release of the Ukrainian sailors and their three ships, captured in the Kerch Strait, which links the Black Sea and the Azov Sea.
With a Moscow court having extended the sailors’ arrest until April, Germany and France would now be more likely to back more restrictive measures, diplomats said.
„We have to apply additional sanctions,” Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told Reuters this week.
„Some (in the EU) say we should give dialogue with Russia a chance in the Normandy format, but I say that is not productive,” he said, referring to four-way talks between Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France.
Italy is among traditional opponents in the EU of sanctions against Russia, a decision that requires unanimity among all 28 member states, citing negative impact on business ties.
That means any move could be limited to adding some names of Russians involved in or responsible for the Azov Sea incident off the Russian-annexed Crimea to the list of people barred from entering the EU and subject to asset freezing over their role in the turmoil in Ukraine.
EU foreign ministers meet in Romania next week and are due to discuss that at their next session in Brussels on Feb. 18, though any final decision could come later.
The bloc decided in December to extend its main economic sanctions on Russia and has stepped up support for Ukraine’s government. Fighting between government forces and Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014.
Russia vows never to give Crimea back to Ukraine. It accuses Kiev of staging a provocation in the Kerch Strait and its sailors of crossing illegally into Russian waters.
(Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Catherine Evans)
Venezuela’s self-proclaimed “interim president” has appealed to the country’s military to abandon President Nicolas Maduro and join his side, asking citizens to “extend a hand of friendship” to soldiers to convince them to defect.
Juan Guaido, the 35-year-old head of the opposition-controlled national assembly, called for massive protests next week at an open-air press conference in Caracas, interrupted by frequent cheers of “presidente”.
Hours before, in an interview aired by Latino broadcaster Univision, he suggested to Mr Maduro that he would guarantee safe passage out of the country.
“This amnesty, these guarantees are on the table for everyone who is prepared to put themselves on the side of the constitution in order to recover the democratic order,” he said.
Some American diplomats on Friday evacuated Caracas under police escort, obeying an order from Mr Maduro to leave despite Mr Guido urging them not to.
It was also reported that Russian military contractors had flown into Venezuela to beef up security for Mr Maduro.
Mr Guaido called on members of the military – who on Thursday pledged their loyalty to Mr Maduro – saying „it is the moment” for them to come out in defence of the constitution. He told Cuban advisers, embedded with the Venezuelan forces, that they should leave the military, although they were welcome to remain in the country.
Mr Guaido was recognised by the United States as the country’s legitimate leader on Wednesday – a move which was swiftly followed by a series of countries in the Americas, including Canada, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Chile.
Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, said Britain believed Mr Guaido was “the right person to take Venezuela forward”.
It was reported on Friday that Mr Maduro’s government had been stymied in an attempt to withdraw $1.2 billion in gold it holds in the Bank of England.
The bank denied Venezuela’s withdrawal request after US officials asked their UK counterparts to help block the regime’s access to overseas assets, sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. The US on Thursday said it wanted to divert such funds to Mr Guaido.
The Washington-led move has put the US on collision course with both Venezuela and Russia, which has stationed its planes in Venezuela. Mr Maduro has frequently visited Moscow to seek support from Mr Putin, and Moscow now accuses the US of trying to usurp power in Venezuela.
Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, is to speak at a UN Security Council meeting on Venezuela on Saturday, in an attempt to drum up support for Mr Guaido. Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said Moscow would insist on “compliance with international law”.
Reuters reported that Kremlin-linked military contractors who have conducted secret missions for Russia in Ukraine and Syria had flown into Venezuela in recent days, citing multiple sources close to them. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said he had „no such information”.
Mr Maduro also retains some allies in Latin America. Mexico, which under leftist leader Andres Manual Lopez Obrador, who took office a month ago, has charted a more conciliatory course with Venezuela, said they would not be changing their position towards President Nicolas Maduro. They offered on Friday to mediate between the opposition and Mr Maduro’s government.
At least seven people have died in a week of unrest and protests, with some NGOs giving the toll as high as 26.
Mr Guaido’s assumption of power on Wednesday was greeted with jubilation at home by opponents of the embattled Mr Maduro.
On Friday hundreds gathered for Mr Guaido’s press conference, excited to see what would happen.
The youthful politician, who was briefly detained earlier this month by security services, said he hoped to hold free and fair elections to designate the official president.
Gustavo Misle, a retired university professor, was holding a sign that had a skeleton attached to the back of it. The cardboard said “we are hungry” and had legal currency stapled to it and gun casings.
Inflation in Venezuela is currently at a million per cent, and the years of chronic shortages of food and essential items show no signs of abating.
„People like me are hungry,” he told The Telegraph. “We either buy food or medicines, and our retirement isn’t worth anything.
„I support Guaido because it’s the first time I’ve seen that we can have changes and complete changes.”
A gunman killed two people and wounded two others before fatally shooting himself in State College, Pa., police say.
Authorities identified Jordan Witmer, 21, as the suspected gunman. The shootings began at P.J. Harrigan’s Bar & Grill inside a Ramada hotel, where he opened fire and killed Dean Beachy, 62, of Millersburg, Ohio, the Associated Press reports.
He also wounded a woman and another man at the bar, which is located about 2 miles from the Penn State University’s main campus. The AP reports Witmer had reportedly been in a relationship with the woman.
Witmer later broke into a home where he fatally shot another man before killing himself.
State College police did not immediately return calls for comment.
A tweet from Penn State University said it was monitoring the situation. Witmer’s name does not appear in the Penn State director as having been affiliated with the university.