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AP News in Brief at 11:09 p.m. EST

January 26, 2019 - 8:10 PM

Conservatives say Trump caved, but confident he'll get wall

WASHINGTON (AP) — No retreat, no surrender is how President Donald Trump frames his decision to temporarily reopen the government while still pursuing a border wall deal.

Some of his conservative backers have a different take: "pathetic" and "wimp."

Other Trump supporters seem willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, yet they insist that any ultimate government funding deal the president signs must include money for a wall.

Trump defended himself Saturday from the conservative backlash to his decision to end the 35-day-old partial government shutdown — the longest in U.S. history — without money for his promised border wall. He said if he didn't get a fair deal from Congress, the government would shut down again on Feb. 15 or he would use his executive authority to address what he has termed "the humanitarian and security crisis" on the southern U.S. border.

After he announced his decision, a New York newspaper headline dubbed him "CAVE MAN."

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How Congress got Trump to climb down, end shutdown _ for now

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump was feeling the heat.

Week after week, Trump had demanded that the government stay partially shuttered until Democrats agreed to pay for his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Surrounded by a shrinking cast of advisers, he watched as federal workers went unpaid and basic services were frozen. His poll numbers were slipping. His arguments were landing with a thud with the public.

A pair of Senate votes on Thursday, and a round of telephone calls from frustrated Republicans, made clear he had no way out. A president who never admits defeat then began a rapid retreat.

The story of how Trump reversed himself, ending the country's longest shutdown with little to show for it, is largely one of acceptance. Over 35 days and a critical final 24 hours, Trump finally came to see what many allies had known for weeks about his strategy: His only option was to climb down, at least for now.

So Trump did what he does best, ending one campaign and beginning the next. As soon as this shutdown was about to close, he promised everyone a new fight would begin — and another shutdown could soon follow.

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'Weeeee!' Some national parks open to visitors post-shutdown

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Park rangers were once again greeting visitors at some national parks across the United States and flight operations at major airports were returning to normal on Saturday, one day after a partial government shutdown came to an end.

While there were signs that some government machinery was grinding back to life after a record 35 days without funding, many federal workers and their families approached the end of the shutdown cautiously, saying they were relieved they would receive paychecks again, but would continue to restrict their spending amid fears that another shutdown could happen in weeks.

"You can only be so happy because you just have to know that it could happen again," said Rachel Malcom, whose husband serves in the Coast Guard in Rhode Island. "We're going to be playing catch up, so I don't want to overspend."

President Donald Trump signed a short-term deal Friday to end the partial government shutdown, which caused 800,000 federal employees to miss two paychecks. The administration asked department heads to reopen offices in a "prompt and orderly manner."

Many government agencies still had notices on their websites Saturday saying they were not fully operating due to the lack of appropriations. Calls to several agencies also went unanswered, with voicemails saying the offices were closed due to the shutdown. But many parks — from the U.S. Virgin Islands to Minnesota — were glad to open their doors to weekend visitors.

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Search on for Louisiana man suspected in 5 deaths

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Authorities in Louisiana said they are searching for an "armed and dangerous" 21-year-old accused of killing his parents and three others in two separate but related shootings Saturday.

Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre says Dakota Theriot is the "prime suspect" in the deaths of Keith, 50, and Elizabeth Theriot, 50, of Gonzales, his parents.

They were shot in their trailer on Saturday morning. Deputies arrived at the scene and were able to interview one of the victims before both died. Webre said that information led authorities to zero in on the couple's son as a suspect.

Dakota Theriot was being sought on first-degree murder and other charges. He was believed to be driving a stolen 2004 Dodge Ram pickup, grey and silver in colour.

The sheriff said three other shooting deaths occurred Saturday in neighbouring Livingston Parish, about 70 miles (113 kilometres) west of New Orleans.

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19 dead as bombs target cathedral in southern Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Two bombs exploded outside a Roman Catholic cathedral on a southern Philippine island where Muslim militants are active, killing at least 19 people and wounding nearly 50 during a Sunday Mass, officials said.

The first bomb went off in or near the Jolo cathedral in the provincial capital, followed by a second blast outside the compound as government forces were responding to the attack, security officials said.

Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde said that at least 19 people died and 48 were wounded. Police and military reports said the casualties included both troops and civilians.

Photos on social media showed debris and bodies lying on a busy street outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which has been hit by bombs in the past. Troops in armoured carriers sealed off the main road leading to the church while vehicles were transporting the dead and wounded to the hospital. Some casualties were evacuated by air to nearby Zamboanga city.

"I have directed our troops to heighten their alert level, secure all places of worships and public places at once, and initiate pro-active security measures to thwart hostile plans," said Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a statement.

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Venezuela backtracks on order to expel US diplomats

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Nicolas Maduro's government backtracked Saturday from its order for U.S. Embassy personnel to leave Venezuela, moving to defuse tensions with Washington just hours after international diplomats traded heated rhetoric at a special U.N. Security Council meeting on the South American country's crisis.

The socialist president broke relations with the United States on Wednesday after the Trump administration and many other nations in the region recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president, a move that Maduro called a "vile" coup attempt.

His order gave U.S. diplomats three days to leave the country, but the Trump administration said it wouldn't obey, arguing that Maduro is no longer Venezuela's legitimate president. That set the stage for a potential showdown at the hilltop U.S. Embassy compound Saturday night, when the deadline was to expire.

But as the sun set on Venezuela's capital, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying Maduro's government was suspending the expulsion to provide a 30-day window for negotiating with the Trump administration on setting up a "U.S. interests office" in Venezuela and a similar Venezuelan office in the United States. The U.S. and Cuba had a similar arrangement for decades before the Obama administration restored diplomatic relations with the communist-run island.

The State Department did not confirm the Venezuelan government's account, reiterating only that its priority remains the safety of its personnel and that it has no plans to close the embassy.

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In Trump ally Stone's case, Mueller finds crime in coverup

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone may be accused of lying and tampering with witnesses, but it's equally notable what he's not charged with: colluding with the Kremlin in a grand conspiracy to help Trump win the presidency in 2016.

The case is the latest in a series brought by special counsel Robert Mueller that focuses on coverups but lays out no underlying crime. It's a familiar pattern in Washington, where scandals from Watergate to Iran-Contra and Whitewater have mushroomed into presidency-imperiling affairs due to efforts to conceal and mislead.

In the Russia investigation , one Trump aide after another has been accused of lying to investigators, or encouraging others to do so, about Russia-related contacts during the campaign and transition period.

Mueller may well have evidence of criminal co-ordination between Trump associates and Russia that he has yet to reveal, but so far, he's focused repeatedly on those he believes have tried to throw federal or congressional investigators off the trail.

Stone's indictment charges him with seven felonies, including witness tampering, obstruction and false statements, while leaving open the question of whether his or the Trump's campaign's interest in exploiting Russia-hacked emails about Democrat Hillary Clinton crossed a legal line.

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12 immigrant workers at Trump golf course fired, lawyer says

NEW YORK (AP) — A dozen immigrant workers at one of President Donald Trump's golf clubs in New York who are in the U.S. illegally were fired this month even though managers had known about their legal status for years, a lawyer for the workers said Saturday.

As the president railed during the partial government shutdown against immigrants coming into the country illegally, a manager at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County called a dozen immigrant workers into a room one by one Jan. 18 and fired them, said lawyer Anibal Romero.

Many of them had worked at the club for a dozen or more years, he said, and managers knew they had submitted phoney documents but looked the other way.

"This is bogus. People have been there for 12, 13, 14 years," said Romero. He added, referring to one of the president's sons, "One had the keys to Eric Trump's bedroom."

The firings come after workers at another Trump club in New Jersey came forward last month to say managers there had hired them knowing they were in the country illegally, and had even helped one obtain phoney documents.

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40 dead, many feared buried in mud after Brazil dam collapse

BRUMADINHO, Brazil (AP) — The death toll from the collapse of a dam holding back mine waste in southeastern Brazil rose to 40 on Saturday as searchers flying in helicopters and rescuers labouring in deep mud uncovered more bodies. An estimated 300 people were still missing and authorities expected the death toll to increase during a search made more challenging by intermittent rains.

Scores of families in the city desperately awaited word on their loved ones, and Romeu Zema, governor of Minas Gerais state, promised that those responsible "would be punished."

Employees of the mining complex owned and operated by Brazilian mining company Vale were eating lunch Friday afternoon when the dam gave way, unleashing a sea of reddish-brown mud that knocked over and buried several structures of the company and surrounding areas. The level of devastation quickly led President Jair Bolsonaro and other officials to describe it as a "tragedy."

The flow of waste reached the nearby community of Vila Ferteco and an occupied Vale administrative office. On Saturday, rooftops poked above an extensive field of the mud, which also cut off roads. After the dam collapse, some were evacuated from Brumadinho. Other residents of the affected areas barely escaped with their lives.

"I saw all the mud coming down the hill, snapping the trees as it descended. It was a tremendous noise," said a tearful Simone Pedrosa, from the neighbourhood of Parque Cachoeira, about 5 miles (8 kilometres) from where the dam collapsed.

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APNewsBreak: Undercover agents target cybersecurity watchdog

NEW YORK (AP) — The researchers who reported that Israeli software was used to spy on Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi's inner circle before his gruesome death are being targeted in turn by international undercover operatives, The Associated Press has found.

Twice in the past two months, men masquerading as socially conscious investors have lured members of the Citizen Lab internet watchdog group to meetings at luxury hotels to quiz them for hours about their work exposing Israeli surveillance and the details of their personal lives. In both cases, the researchers believe they were secretly recorded.

Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert described the stunts as "a new low."

"We condemn these sinister, underhanded activities in the strongest possible terms," he said in a statement Friday. "Such a deceitful attack on an academic group like the Citizen Lab is an attack on academic freedom everywhere."

Who these operatives are working for remains a riddle, but their tactics recall those of private investigators who assume elaborate false identities to gather intelligence or compromising material on critics of powerful figures in government or business.

News from © The Associated Press, 2019
The Associated Press

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