Shutdown Cost U.S. $11 Billion

A report from the Congressional Budget Office shows that the 35-day partial government shutdown cost the U.S. economy $11 billion.

While the CBO believes that roughly $8 billion of those losses are recoverable, at least $3 billion are permanent.

This devastating news comes as a bipartisan committee is beginning the daunting task of attempting to find a middleground between U.S. lawmakers and the president that will keep the government open after the three-week stopgap measure expires February 15.

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An End to The War in Afghanistan?

Multiple news outlets are reporting that the United States government and the Taliban are negotiating towards peace in Afghanistan.

Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, the key U.S. negotiator with the Taliban, has told The New York Times that the group has agreed in principle to initial drafts of a deal.

If an agreement can be reached, it would end 17 years of bloodshed in the country as well as the longest war in U.S. history.

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Pelosi Stands Her Ground

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said that the president’s State of the Union address will not happen this Tuesday as planned.

Despite the president’s agreement to sign a temporary stopgap measure reopening the government for three weeks, Pelosi insists that the SOTU will still not take place.

The president had planned to give the address this Tuesday, but Pelosi has said that nothing will happen until the shutdown is officially and completely over.

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A Win for Women

Iowa’s abortion ban — the most restrictive in the country — was just struck down, and New York is working to protect women’s access to the procedure even if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

An Iowa district court struck down the incredibly restrictive law, which banned all forms of abortion after the moment a fetal heartbeat is detected; most women don’t even know that they are pregnant by the time a heartbeat can be registered.

The bill was signed into law last year by the state’s female governor, adding a little extra salt to the wound as well as to the legacy of women oppressing other women.

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The Coup of Our Era

The United States and a handful of other countries are in the process of staging a coup d’etat in Venezuela that threatens the stability of the entire region.

The U.S. is joined by the European Union and the Lima Group in backing Juan Guaidó as the president of Venezuela, while Russia, Turkey, China, Cuba, and Bolivia all still support sitting president Nicolás Maduro.

Vice President Mike Pence released a video addressed to the people of Venezuela expressing support for their cause on behalf of the American people which had gone viral.

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BuzzFeed v. Mueller

Last week, Robert Mueller’s office quashed a report by BuzzFeed claiming the president directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. BuzzFeed, however, stands by the report.

The initial report claimed that Trump directed his then lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress regarding the status of the negotiations for the Trump Tower in Moscow.

Within hours of its release, Mueller’s office publicly denounced the validity of the report, but BuzzFeed is standing by its reporting.

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A Petty Game

Nancy Pelosi urged the president to write his State of the Union due to security concerns; he cancelled her delegation’s flight to NATO and Afghanistan.

What began as a legitimate national security concern has spiraled into yet another petty game for the president, who is already holding hundreds of thousands of Americans’ paychecks hostage over a project that won’t fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

And, in the process, the president revealed a previously undisclosed destination for the delegation — Afghanistan — repeating the same potentially fatal blunder he committed on his last-minute visit to the troops in December.

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The Mortgage is Due

First Nations and indigenous peoples are being disproportionately affected by the shutdown due to their dependence on a host of government agencies and services which have been compromised.

From federally funded medical programs to food delivery services, Native communities are facing a dire lack of resources and support as we edge nearer to a full month of partially-functioning government.

In addition to critical services and products such as healthcare and food, streets in certain communities have gone unplowed for weeks, leaving people to try and dig themselves out or face the risk of being snowed in at home.

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Census Citizenship Question Blocked

The administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census has been blocked by a New York City federal judge.

Critics of the addition argue that it will likely intimidate non-U.S. citizens from responding to the census, even though the Constitution calls for a census which counts all residents rather than just citizens.

Because census data influences districting and funding, states with high immigrant populations would have been disproportionately and inaccurately represented by the skewed data.

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A Foreign Agent for President

A bombshell New York Times piece reports that the FBI has been investigating the president due to concerns that he may be working “on behalf of Russia.”

The investigation was apparently launched shortly after Trump fired former FBI director James Comey over the launch of a probe into potential Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

In essence, investigators have been attempting to determine whether or not the president’s actions — namely, firing Comey — consitute a national security threat, and if he has been knowingly or unknowingly compromised by Russian influence.

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