Trump to make border visit after walking out on congressional leaders
President Donald Trump will visit Texas Thursday to promote his plan for a border wall , the sticking point in negotiations with Democrats to reopen the federal government. Trump’s trip to McAllen, Texas, takes place a day after the president stormed out of a meeting with Democratic leaders who were negotiating an end to a partial government shutdown — now in its 20th day — that has left some 800,000 federal workers without pay. White House officials hope the trip will draw attention to what Trump has described as a “crisis” on the southwest border that he says can be fixed by spending an additional $5.7 billion to build 234 miles of “new physical barrier” along the border. Democrats flatly reject the need for a wall and say Trump is overstating the situation on the border. Polls suggest a slim majority of Americans blame Trump more than Democrats for the shutdown, now the second-longest in U.S. history, though the same polls show that a majority of Republicans back Trump on the wall.
Government shutdown: Federal workers to rally at White House
Federal workers and their supporters are expected to rally for their jobs Thursday outside the White House as the government shutdown rolls through its third week with no end in sight. About 800,000 federal employees are currently on furlough or working without pay as disputes over border wall funding have led to the shutdown of nine federal departments and several smaller agencies since last month. The National Federation of Federal Workers is co-sponsoring the rally. Congressional members are expected to speak, along with workers who will explain how the shutdown affects them, their families, their agencies and Americans. President Donald Trump has said he would be willing to keep the shutdown going for a year or more if Democrats don’t yield to his demands.
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Texas Republicans consider ousting county exec — because he’s Muslim
Republican officials in a Texas county will vote Thursday on a proposal to oust a party executive basically because he’s Muslim. A faction led by a Tarrant County precinct chairman is taking aim against Shahid Shafi, the countywide vice chairman. Not all Republicans “think Islam is safe or acceptable,” Dorrie O’Brien wrote on Facebook. The official who appointed Shafi, county Chairman Darl Easton, called the effort against him “disgusting,” and the vote has been criticized by several prominent Republicans including Sen. Ted Cruz and Land Commissioner George P. Bush. Pakistan immigrant Shafi, a trauma surgeon and area city council member, says, “I am honored to be an American and a Republican.”
IT expert who helped feds snare ‘El Chapo’ resumes his testimony
The Colombian internet technology guru who installed electronic systems that enabled accused Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán to run his alleged drug trafficking empire will resume his testimony Thursday. Cristian Rodríguez, 32, represents the most significant prosecution witness to date in the roughly two-month trial that could land Guzmán a life term in federal prison. According to Rodriguez, he helped devise a system that blocked investigators from intercepting the activities of Guzmán and other members of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel — Rodríguez later breached the security protocols, betraying Guzmán and agreeing to testify against him. FBI Special Agent Stephen Marston said Rodríguez’s assistance proved so valuable that FBI agents considered nominating him for a multi-million dollar government reward. That idea was later discarded.
Amid international calls to step down, Maduro gets sworn in
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro will begin another six years in power Thursday despite international calls for him to step down and a devastating economic crisis.Maduro’s second term will extend the Latin American country’s socialist revolution amid widespread complaints that he has stripped Venezuela of its last vestiges of democracy. An estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled their nation’s hyperinflation, food and medical shortages over the last two years, according to the United Nations. Those remaining live on a monthly minimum wage equal to less than $5 and falling daily. A dozen Latin American governments and Canada in a coalition have rejected the legitimacy of Maduro’s next term, and Washington has sanctioned top officials in his government. Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel and Bolivian President Evo Morales are expected to attend the inauguration.
Contributing: Associated Press