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NEWS     SATURDAY,  DECEMBER   15, 2018    NEWS

Outgoing Gov. Walker signs bills restricting successor
Outgoing Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker, facing an outcry from Democrats who accuse him of trying to weaken the power of the Democrat who will succeed him as governor, signed into law Friday several bills that make significant changes to state government in Wisconsin. In a statement, Walker pushed back against what he referred to as Democratic “hype and hysteria” over the new laws. “Despite all the hype and hysteria out there, these bills do ne one of theothing to fundamentally diminish executive authority,” Walker said. He added, “The bottom line is the new governorbuFox will continue to b most powerful chief executives in the country. This includes veto and line-item veto powers; appointing members of the cabinet and other government posts includdget proposal; and more. Fox
VOA VIEW: Smart political move.

George Conway ramps up Trump attacks as Kellyanne defends boss
James Carville and Mary Matalin have nothing on Kellyanne and George Conway. While the Ragin’ Cajun and his wife famously backed candidates on opposite sides of the political spectrum in the Clinton-Bush eras, the Conways' political disagreements have reached new levels -- with Mr. Conway repeatedly and publicly undermining Mrs. Conway as she defends President Trump in crisis after crisis. Marital bliss gave way once again to marital dis on Thursday night, when longtime Trump adviser Kellyanne put up a muscular defense of Trump’s conduct in response to ex-lawyer Michael Cohen's claim that he directed hush-money payments to two women claiming affairs with the president.  Fox
VOA VIEW: George is a fool and it is surprising that his marriage is still intact.

Johnson & Johnson shares plunge after report that says it knew about asbestos in its baby powder
Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) stock fell as much as 11% on Friday — on track for its worst day since 2002 — after a Reuters report said the company knew for decades that asbestos was in its baby powder. The company has been grappling with lawsuits alleging some of its talcum powder products caused cancer. But the Reuters report cites documents and other evidence that indicate company executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers knew about the problem and failed to disclose it to regulators or the public. The plunge in J&J's shares rippled across Wall Street. J&J is among the most widely held stocks and it's also a member of the Dow. CNN

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Eliza Dushku received a secret settlement from CBS
Eliza Dushku reportedly received a confidential settlement of $9.5 million from CBS after she accused one of her co-stars of harassment. According to the New York Times, which reviewed details of the settlement included in a draft of a report into CBS workplace culture being conducted by outside counsel contracted by the network, the actress was paid the money after she accused her "Bull" co-star, Michael Weatherly, of making remarks about her appearance, a comment about a threesome and a rape joke. Dushku, who was contracted for three episodes with the possibility of becoming a full-time cast member, was written off the show after she confronted Weatherly about his behavior. The settlement, the equivalent of about how much Dushku would have received in salary she had stayed on for four seasons, came after mediation with CBS. In a statement to CNN, first released to The Times, CBS confirmed the settlement and pledged to improve working conditions. CNN
VOA VIEW: A liberal media spider web.

Government Can’t Shut Down--Because 75% Is Already Funded
Seventy-five percent of the federal government is already funded through all of fiscal year 2019, according to the House Committee on Appropriations. That means a total government shutdown cannot happen. On Sept. 21, President Donald Trump signed a "minibus" appropriations law that funded the Department of Energy; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; and the Legislative Branch for the entirety of fiscal 2019, which does not end until next Sept. 30. Then, on Sept. 28, Trump signed another “minibus” law funding the departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education through the end of fiscal year 2019. “With the signing of this package today, Congress will have enacted the majority of all discretionary spending for the year--75%--prior to the end of the fiscal year, an accomplishment that hasn’t occurred in over two decades,” House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Ferlinghuysen (R.-N.J.) said when Trump signed that second "minibus." CNS
VOA VIEW: Good news, if true.

Attorney Alan Dershowitz: Paying Hush Money to Women Before Election Not a Crime
Attorney Alan Dershowitz said Friday that President Donald Trump paying hush money to two women to cover up an alleged affair just weeks prior to the 2016 presidential election was not illegal.  In an interview with Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” Dershowitz, author of the book, “The Case Against Impeaching Trump,” said Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen “doesn’t seem to understand” the difference “between something that may be wrong and something that may be illegal.”  “Reasonable people can disagree about whether it’s wrong to pay hush money to somebody to stop them from … disclosing alleged impropriety sexually. Reasonable people could say that’s wrong or that’s right. It’s not illegal,” he said. CNS
VOA VIEW: The truth hurts liberals.

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China suspends tariff hikes on $126B of US goods
China has announced a 90-day suspension of tariff hikes on $126 billion of U.S. cars, trucks and auto parts following its cease-fire in a trade battle with Washington that threatens global economic growth. The tax agency said the suspension that takes effect Jan. 1 is intended to carry out the agreement reached by Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping during a Dec. 1 meeting in Argentina. The agency said Beijing will suspend a 25 percent import charge on $66 billion of cars and trucks and a 5 percent charge on $60 billion of auto parts. ABC
VOA VIEW: Trump wins, again.

Trump ramps up interviews in chief of staff search as Christie bows out
With current White House chief of staff John Kelly now set to depart by year’s end, President Donald Trump has ramped up the candidate interview process as he scrambles to fill the top White House position. One-time deputy campaign manager David Bossie was seen at the White House Friday where he's expected to speak with the president about the position. He arrived with Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, with whom he's recently written a book. ABC News has learned former New Jersey governor and ABC News contributor Chris Christie interviewed for the position on Thursday, but released a statement Friday saying he's asked the president to no longer consider him. ABC

Former Army commando charged with murder of suspected bomb-maker
A former U.S. Army commando is being charged with murder in a long-simmering case alleging he tracked down and killed a suspected bomb-maker in Afghanistan.
The Army said in statement that Maj. Mathew Golsteyn has been charged with killing the male suspect during his 2010 deployment to Afghanistan. His immediate commander determined that "sufficient evidence exists" to warrant the charges, the Army said. Golsteyn was an Army Green Beret. He believed the bomb-maker was responsible for an explosion that killed two Marines.  CBS

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Men's rights activists are attacking women's scholarships and programs
A men’s rights activist who has used federal complaints to target women-only scholarships and programs is now trying to start a national movement to end what he sees as discrimination against men. Over the past 15 months, the activist, Kursat Pekgoz, 31, a doctoral student in English literature at the University of Southern California, has filed federal Title IX complaints against three universities, and drafted complaints against three more, alleging that efforts to support female students are no longer necessary and amount to discrimination against male students. Once outnumbered, women now make up about 56.5 percent of students at American universities, notes Pekgoz, who has himself been the subject of a Title IX investigation into a sexual harassment allegation. NBC

Top secret report: North Korea keeps busting sanctions, evading U.S.
A top secret U.S. military assessment found that North Korea is still evading U.N. sanctions by transferring oil at sea, and that a coalition of U.S.-led forces deployed to disrupt the movements has failed to dent the overall number of illegal transfers, three U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence told NBC News. The finding underscores the Trump administration's struggle to maintain economic pressure on North Korea amid a diplomatic bid to persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear and missile arsenal. The smuggled fuel provides a crucial lifeline for the regime's economy and armed forces. The U.S. NBC
VOA VIEW: North Korea has been playing fast and loose.

Brexit: More assurances for MPs possible says May
Theresa May has said it is still possible to get the assurances MPs need to back her Brexit deal, despite EU leaders ruling out any renegotiation. At a summit in Brussels, the UK PM said there was "work to do" but talks on "further clarification" would continue. She admitted a "robust" discussion with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, after he complained about "nebulous and imprecise debate". Labour said the withdrawal deal was now "dead in the water". The UK prime minister travelled to Brussels to make a special plea to EU leaders after delaying Tuesday's Commons vote on the deal, in anticipation of a heavy defeat. She then went on to win a confidence vote brought by her own MPs but vowed to listen to the concerns of the 37% of Tory MPs who voted against her. BBC

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Special counsel files information about Michael Flynn's questioning by FBI
Special counsel Robert Mueller has submitted material about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's questioning by the FBI. U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered Mueller to turn over by Friday at 3 p.m. all documents related to Flynn's questioning, days before he is to be sentenced on Tuesday. "Nothing about the way the interview was arranged or conducted caused the defendant to make false statements to the FBI on January 24," the special counsel wrote in the memo. Flynn's attorneys pointed out in their sentencing memo that he had not been warned that lying to the FBI was a crime before he was interviewed by agents. CBS

Khashoggi killer heard saying 'I know how to cut' on audio
One of the killers of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was heard saying “I know how to cut” on the audio of the murder, which Turkey has shared with US and European officials, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoman, said on Friday. Erdoman criticised Riyadh for its changing account of how Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and prominent critic of the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 Oct. The journalist had gone there to collect documents for his forthcoming marriage. The case has caused global outrage and damaged the international standing of Prince Mohammed, 33, the kingdom’s de facto ruler. The US Senate delivered a rare rebuke to Donald Trump for his support of the crown prince, whom it blamed for the killing. BBC

ICE report: Deportations up 14 percent in first 9 months of 2018
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Friday there's been a 14 percent increase in deportations this year, but the figure trails the average under former President Barack Obama. ICE said its Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) totaled 256,086 undocumented immigrants for the year, ending in September. The agency said 57 percent of those removed were convicted criminals and nearly 6,000 were classified as suspected gang members. During the first six years of the Obama administration, ICE deportations averaged between 315,000 and 409,000 people per year, The Washington Examiner reported. In Obama's final two years, those numbers dropped to about 235,000 and 240,000, respectively. UPI

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Ryan pushes for thousands of Irish visas before leaving office
House Speaker Paul Ryan is leaving Congress with a grateful nod to his Irish ancestors. A bill pushed by Ryan, whose family fled famine-ravaged Ireland in 1851, could provide Irish nationals with thousands of additional U.S. work visas each year. The legislation cleared the House Nov. 28 on an uncontested voice vote and is increasingly likely to clear the Senate next week, a GOP aide told POLITICO. But the measure has stirred opposition from the alt-right publication Breitbart, which dubbed the visa program “amnesty for Irish lobbies“ and said it would take jobs away from U.S. college graduates. The bill would give the Irish access to unused E-3 visas, which currently are available only to Australians in "specialty occupations" that require a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent. Politico

Trump names Mulvaney acting White House chief of staff
President Donald Trump announced on Twitter late Friday that Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, will become acting White House chief of staff. Mulvaney will replace chief of staff John Kelly, who is leaving the White House at the end of the year. The president didn’t elaborate on how long Mulvaney would serve in the role. "I look forward to working with [Mulvaney] in this new capacity as we continue to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" the president wrote in a tweet. "John will be staying until the end of the year. He is a GREAT PATRIOT and I want to personally thank him for his service!" The president's announcement was initially seen as a stop-gap solution to the sweepstakes reality show that was underway for the position. Politico
VOA VIEW: A good decision, for now.

Sarah Sanders: Trump had nothing to do with inauguration spending
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is denying that President Donald Trump had any knowledge of possible malfeasance by his inaugural committee, which is reportedly under investigation for misusing funds. "That doesn't have anything to do with the president or the first lady," Sanders told reporters Thursday evening outside the White House regarding the investigation. "The biggest thing the president did, his engagement in the inauguration, was to come here and raise his hand and take the oath of office. The president was focused on the transition during that time and not on any of the planning for the inauguration." Politico

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Trump increasingly isolated as aides leave, friends flip and investigations advance
It was almost noon Friday when a Marine suddenly appeared outside the West Wing doors, a sign that President Trump had belatedly reported to the Oval Office.
For the third day in a row, the president had been in the White House residence all morning, fuming about federal investigations that have moved closer to him — and are likely to get worse. His former confidant, attorney Michael Cohen, and other once-stalwart supporters have flipped, becoming witnesses for a Justice Department he has struggled to bend to his will. Prosecutors also secured the cooperation of American Media Inc., the tabloid publisher that routinely helped Trump muzzle bad stories and target his enemies. Angeles Times

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