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Wednesday, Feb 20th

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Judge rules that Manafort deliberately lied to Mueller’s team during cooperation

Manafort : Judge rules he lied multiple times

Evidence suggests that Paul Manafort deliberately lied to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team after he had agreed to cooperate, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

After dueling filings and arguments from prosecutors and the defense over the past few months, Judge Amy Berman Jackson sided with Mueller’s team on three of the five areas in which they’d accused Manafort of lying.

Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chair, has already been convicted of financial crimes in Virginia and has pleaded guilty to other charges in Washington. He was not charged with new crimes related to these alleged false statements.

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U.S. senators to try again to pass Russia sanctions bill

Congress wil try again to pass Russia sanctions bill

U.S. Republican and Democratic senators on Wednesday will introduce a bill that would impose sanctions on Russia’s banking and energy sectors and foreign debt for Moscow’s meddling in U.S. elections and aggression against Ukraine.

It will be introduced by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, and is a tougher version of the one the two lawmakers backed last year but which failed to pass, Menendez’s office said.

The bill, which was seen by Reuters, may have a better chance of passing Congress now, either as a whole or as amendments to other bills, in the face of growing bipartisan anger over Russia’s interference in other countries’ affairs.

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NASA Says Farewell to Mars Opportunity Rover

Opportunity Rover dead on Mars

NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover traversed the red planet for more than a decade. Its photography—simultaneously detailed and panoramic—made a hostile environment seem almost familiar, revealing the nature of a neighbor to which both the agency and several billionaires want to send humans.

On Wednesday, after seven months during which NASA was unable to establish contact with the machine, its 15-year mission was declared complete.

The solar-powered craft’s last communication was received on June 10 as a massive dust storm was enveloping the planet. On Tuesday night, after more than 600 electronic pings aimed at Opportunity since last summer, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory sent their final commands to the rover, hoping to spark a response.

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President Trump installed a new $50K golf simulator at the White House

Trump puts golf simulator in WHPresident Donald Trump recently installed a new golf simulator at the White House, according to a report from the Washington Post.

Trump footed the bill for the $50,000 room-sized fixture, the Post reported, noting that it replaced a previous system installed by President Barack Obama that was less advanced. The simulator allows one to play virtual rounds of golf by hitting balls at a large screen. It's unclear where the fixture is set up in the White House, but the Post notes it's located somewhere in his personal quarters.

The Post, citing unnamed sources, said Trump has yet to use the new equipment, which was installed sometime over the last few weeks.

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Former Air Force intelligence officer charged with spying for Iran and revealing defense secrets

Asst. AG of NSA, John DemersFederal prosecutors revealed charges on Wednesday that a former Air Force intelligence officer had revealed defense secrets and the identity of at least one U.S. intelligence officer to the Iranian government.

Monica E. Witt was named in an indictment unsealed Wednesday, which also charged four Iranian nationals who prosecutors alleged were involved in cyber operations against her former U.S. military colleagues. Witt is charged with espionage, conspiracy and other crimes.

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National debt surpasses $22T for first time in U.S. history

National debt tops $5T for first time The gross national debt surpassed $22 trillion for the first time in U.S. history, according to data released by the Treasury Department on Tuesday.

The Treasury Department estimated the national debt reached $22.01 trillion, up $30 billion from the previous month.

National debt stood at $21.974 trillion as of Dec. 31, representing an increase one year after President Donald Trump signed a tax reform bill in which a lower corporate tax rate lowered Treasury revenues.

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New York City Detective Shot Dead by Fellow Officers

NYC Detective shot dead

A New York City police detective was killed on Tuesday evening after he was shot by fellow officers in a confused eruption of gunfire as they confronted a robbery suspect inside a cellphone store in Queens.

Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill called the death of the detective an “absolutely tragic case of friendly fire,” saying it was later discovered the suspect was carrying a fake gun. A sergeant was also wounded in the barrage of police fire.

The shooting took place at about 6:15 p.m. at a T-Mobile store in the Richmond Hill neighborhood, not far from Kennedy International Airport.

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Trump administration still separating families at border, advocates say

Trump administration still separating familiesThe Trump administration is still tearing young children away from their parents when they cross the US-Mexico border unlawfully, despite formally ending the policy of family separations last summer, according to immigration advocates in Texas.

In El Paso on Monday, on the day Donald Trump held a rally in the border city, a mother sobbed as she told how she arrived in the US from Honduras last October and had her two daughters, aged five and three, taken away from her without explanation.

It was a month before she was allowed to speak to her girls, by phone, and then see them for one hour a week. They were reunited after four months and are now staying in El Paso, in western Texas, while authorities process the asylum application of their mother, Yeimi, who asked to withhold her last name out of security concerns.

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Six California police officers fire shots at rapper asleep in car, killing him

6 California cops kill sleeping rapper

California police officers fatally shot a 20-year-old rapper who was sleeping in his car outside a Taco Bell, authorities said.

Six Vallejo officers fired “multiple rounds” at the man, identified by family as Willie McCoy, police said. McCoy had a handgun on him when the officers fired out of “fear for their own safety” on Saturday night, according to the department. The family of McCoy, whose rapper name was Willie Bo, said Tuesday that police had racially profiled the young black man and that there was no justification for using deadly force against someone who was sleeping and not a threat.

“There was no attempt to try to work out a peaceful solution,” Marc McCoy, Willie’s older brother, told the Guardian. “The police’s job is to arrest people who are breaking the law – not take the law into your own hands. You’re not judge, jury and executioner … We’re never going to get over this.”

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