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Friday, Jan 24th

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Trump issues new rule replacing Obama-era waterway protections

Clean Water ActThe  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a major rollback to protections for streams and other smaller bodies of water on Thursday, saying it would institute a new rule advocated by farmers and other industry groups.

The new rule would replace the already-repealed Waters of the United States rule (WOTUS), crafted under President Obama, which expanded the types of waterways protected by federal law.

The Obama administration argued smaller bodies of water, even some seasonal ones caused by snowmelt, must be protected in order to stop pollution from reaching larger sources, including those used for drinking water.

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Dems mount preemptive strike on Trump's defense

Sylvia Garcia

House Democrats are trying to shatter President Donald Trump’s defense before it begins.

The seven House impeachment managers seeking Trump’s removal from office know they are about to cede the floor to the president’s legal team — perhaps for three full days — as soon as Saturday. So the House managers spent all day Thursday trying to preempt and outflank them.

On a day initially billed as a dry recitation of constitutional theory, Democrats instead launched a multimedia barrage featuring the president’s own allies, advisers and even his favored TV network as they tried to undermine his anticipated defense.

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Trump administration finalizing Medicaid block grant plan targeting Obamacare

Seema Verma

The Trump administration is finalizing a plan to let states convert a chunk of Medicaid funding to block grants, even as officials remain divided over how to sell the controversial change to the safety net health program.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma plans to issue a letter soon explaining how states could seek waivers to receive defined payments for adults covered by Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, according to seven people with knowledge of the closely guarded effort. An announcement is tentatively slated for the end of next week, more than one year after Verma and her team began developing the plan.

Trump will have hard time blocking potential Bolton trial testimony

John BoltonPresident Donald Trump would have a tough time blocking John Bolton’s testimony in his U.S. Senate impeachment trial by invoking the legal doctrine called executive privilege if his former national security adviser is subpoenaed as a witness, according to legal experts.

The Republican-controlled Senate has not yet decided whether to allow any witnesses or new evidence in the trial that will determine whether the Republican president is removed from office after being impeached on Dec. 18 by the Democratic-led House of Representatives on two charges.

Bolton refused to cooperate with the House inquiry but made a surprise announcement on Jan. 6 that he would be willing to testify in the Senate trial if subpoenaed to do so.

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Coronavirus: Here's what airlines and airports are doing to screen, safeguard passengers

Corona virusAfter  the first case of the new coronavirus from China was discovered in the United States, airlines, airports and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. have responded to try to mitigate the spread of the deadly respiratory virus.

The new coronavirus, which originated in the central city of Wuhan, China, has so far infected more than 540 and killed at least 17, according to Chinese authorities. Wuhan officials have halted air and train travel from the city and closed public transportation. The virus has spread to Beijing, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

Here's what we know about coronavirus cases in the U.S. and how the airline industry is trying to stop the spread of the virus.

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New restrictions could make it more difficult for pregnant women to get US visas

Birth tourism crackdown by TrumpIn a move purportedly aimed at curbing "birth tourism," the Trump administration issued new visa guidelines Thursday that could make it more difficult for some pregnant women to get visas to visit the United States.

Under the U.S. Constitution, anyone born in the U.S. is considered a citizen. While the practice of traveling to the U.S. to give birth is not fundamentally illegal, authorities have arrested operators of birth tourism agencies for visa fraud or tax evasion.

Under the new guidelines, which take effect Friday, visa applicants deemed by consular officers to be coming to the U.S. primarily to give birth will now be treated like other foreigners coming to the U.S. for medical treatment — they must prove they have the money to pay for it, including transportation and living expenses.

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Senate hears opening arguments making the case against Trump

Trump impeachment trial begins

House managers, led by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), began presenting three days of opening arguments Wednesday in the historic Senate impeachment trial of President Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Earlier in the day, Trump said at a news conference in Switzerland that he “can live either way” with the Senate’s decision on whether to call witnesses in a trial focused on his administration’s conduct toward Ukraine.

The crux of the House case is the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a political rival, as well as his son Hunter Biden.

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Trump Roars, and Davos Shrugs

Trump at Davos; whatever....Two years ago President Donald Trump flew here and took the gathering of elites at the World Economic Forum by storm. Every conversation seemed to revolve around the American leader and his signature brand of political disruption.

Trump came back this year, and was greeted with a shrug.

Make no mistake, all the standard elements of the Trump tornado were on display. There was his keynote address boasting about how well the U.S. economy is doing on his watch. There was a blizzard of meetings with foreign leaders and U.S. finance and tech CEOs, at which he reportedly said he wished he owned stock in their firms because of how much money he had made them. There was the honking news conference with its usual lamentations about impeachment and the “major sleaze bags” trying to drive him from office.

The big difference was the way most people at Davos, including Americans but especially the non-Americans, were responding to this flamboyant but familiar show. The consensus reaction: Whatever.

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Fairway Market To Close All Stores And Declare Bankruptcy: Report

Fairwway Markets to closeFairway could filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy as early as Wednesday and soon shutter its 14 stores, the New York Post reported Tuesday night.

Fairway's media center did not immediately respond to Patch's request for comment.

This would not be Fairway's first brush with bankruptcy. The company dug itself out of Chapter 11 proceedings in 2016 by borrowing money and shifting ownership from Sterling Investment Partners to a consortium led by Blackstone's GSO Capital Partners.

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