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Tuesday, Jan 23rd

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down congressional district map

Pennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down redistricting mapPennsylvania’s Supreme Court struck down the state’s congressional district map in a split decision issued today.

The justices, ruling just days after hearing oral arguments in the case, stated the map “clearly, plainly and palpably” violates the state constitution.

The order also says a new map will be in place by Feb. 19 to use for the primary election scheduled for May 15, according to the case docket.

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FBI director threatened to resign amid Trump, Sessions pressure to fire deputy

Wray threatened to resign because of pressure from Trump, Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions — at the public urging of President Donald Trump — has been pressuring FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, but Wray threatened to resign if McCabe was removed, according to three sources with direct knowledge.

  • Wray's resignation under those circumstances would have created a media firestorm. The White House — understandably gun-shy after the Comey debacle — didn’t want that scene, so McCabe remains.
  • Sessions told White House Counsel Don McGahn about how upset Wray was about the pressure on him to fire McCabe, and McGahn told Sessions this issue wasn’t worth losing the FBI Director over, according to a source familiar with the situation.
  • Why it matters: Trump started his presidency by pressuring one FBI Director (before canning him), and then began pressuring another (this time wanting his deputy canned). This much meddling with the FBI for this long is not normal.

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Hush money Trump’s lawyer allegedly paid Stormy Daniels broke election laws, new complaint charges

Story Daniels and Donald's hush money

A good government group filed complaints against President Trump’s campaign charging his lawyer’s payment of hush money to a porn star who allegedly had an affair with Trump broke election laws.

Common Cause lodged the complaints with the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission Monday. They say the reported $130,000 payment by Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen to adult film star Stormy Daniels constituted an in kind contribution to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign — which the campaign failed to report as election law requires.

“The American people expect and deserve transparency when it comes to money spent to influence elections and those requirements are not optional no matter how embarrassing the reason behind the expense,” said Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn.

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Facebook: we were too slow to recognise our 'corrosive' effect on democracy

Facebook slow to see effect on femocracy

Facebook has admitted to being “too slow to recognise” Russian election interference, but says that social networks simply reflect human intent, “good and bad”.

In a blogpost, Facebook product manager Samidh Chakrabarti says that “at its best, [social media] allows us to express ourselves and take action. At its worst, it allows people to spread misinformation and corrode democracy.
“I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can’t,” Chakrabarti adds.
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Emergency official: 5 missing after Oklahoma rig explosion

Oklahoma rig explosionFive people are missing after a fiery explosion ripped through an eastern Oklahoma drilling rig Monday morning, sending plumes of black smoke into the air and leaving a derrick crumpled on the ground, an emergency official said.

Pittsburg County Emergency Manager Director Kevin Enloe told television station KOTV that at least three medical helicopters landed at the site following the explosion. He said five people were missing.

Aerial footage from midday Monday showed several fires still burning at the site and the derrick, a towering metal structure above the well, collapsed onto the ground.

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Top USA Gymnastics board members step down amid sexual abuse scandal

USA Gymnastic Board members step downThree  top leaders on USA Gymnastics’ board of directors have stepped down as the sentencing hearing for former team doctor Larry Nassar continues in Michigan.

Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder and Treasurer Bitsy Kelley all resigned Sunday, according to a release from USA Gymnastics. The organization has faced widespread criticism from current and former gymnasts over how it handled the accusations of abuse against Nassar.

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Fossil fuel companies are the real abusers of the welfare system

Fossil fuel companies are the real abusers of welfareIt is time we shift the cost of climate disasters away from the American taxpayer and to the industry that is largely responsible for the damage. That means putting a price on carbon instead of subsidizing their dangerous pollution.

Storms in 2017 cost American taxpayers more than $300 billion, more than any year on record. That’s enough money to feed every food insecure household in the United States — all 17.6 million of them — for an entire year and still have money left over to provide free healthcare to 9 million low-income children for the next 30 years.

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Senate votes to end shutdown

Senate votes to end shutdown

The Senate voted Monday to reopen the government, ending a three-day standoff that left federal agencies shuttered and hundreds of thousands of workers furloughed.

Democrats agreed to advance a stopgap spending measure lasting until Feb. 8 after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised to allow an immigration bill to reach the floor next month. The vote was 81-18.

"After several discussions, offers and counteroffers, the Republican leader and I have come to an arrangement. We will vote today to reopen the government to continue negotiating a global agreement," Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said ahead of the vote.

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The 270 people connected to the Russia probes

Mueller probe: cast of charactersA POLITICO analysis of court documents, congressional letters, public testimony and media reports reveals that the investigations into the 2016 election and its aftermath now involve hundreds of people in Washington, Moscow and around the world.

Some names sound familiar, like Stephen Bannon and Donald Trump Jr., but most don’t. Taken together, they illuminate the way federal investigators are assembling the pieces of the Russia puzzle.

The probes have also touched 53 foreign nationals including 39 people with direct ties to Russia.

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