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Friday, Jan 20th

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Trump D.C. Hotel Contractors Say They're Owed Millions

Trump owes contractors millionsIn late October, just weeks ahead of the election, President-elect Donald Trump made a quick detour to Washington for the official opening of his new five-star hotel, just a few blocks from the White House.

During a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Trump told the crowd that the two-year, roughly $200 million renovation project at the historic Old Post Office Building was done ahead of schedule and under budget, thanks to what he called an incredible team of people — "including hundreds of construction workers, electricians, maintenance workers and so many others who helped make this project a reality. They're really the important ones."

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U.S. Puts Bumblebee On The Endangered Species List For 1st Time

Bumble bee on endangered species listThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the rusty patched bumblebee an endangered species — the first such designation for a bumblebee and for a bee species in the continental U.S.

The protected status, which goes into effect on Feb. 10, includes requirements for federal protections and the development of a recovery plan. It also means that states with habitats for this species are eligible for federal funds.

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Florida Rep. John Rutherford collapses in Capitol

John RutherfordRep. John Rutherford, R-Jacksonville, collapsed during voting Wednesday night and was removed from the Capitol on a stretcher, according to reports.

"He appeared to be receiving oxygen through a mask," according to The Hill. "GOP lawmakers emerged from the vote a short time later, saying Rutherford had been 'stabilized.' "

An email to Rutherford's office has not yet been returned, though a spokesman told the Florida Times-Union he is recovering.

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Top U.S. ethics official: Trump's plan to hand over business control 'meaningless'

Top ethics official: Trump holdings deal meainglessThe top ethics official in the U.S. government on Wednesday dismissed President-elect Donald Trump's promise to cede day-to-day control of his businesses to family members as nothing more than a "meaningless" symbolic gesture.

Walter Shaub, chief of the Office of Government Ethics, a watchdog that monitors the federal government, told reporters that Trump's stated plan does hardly anything to address concerns about potential conflicts of interest he would face in the White House.

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Tennessee woman jailed for attempting abortion accepts plea deal for release

Tennessee woman jailed for attempting abortionA Tennessee woman arrested in late 2015 for using an unravelled coat hanger to attempt her own abortion was released from jail on Monday in exchange for a guilty plea to one felony count of procuring a miscarriage.

Anna Yocca, 32, initially faced a possible life sentence for her September 2015 self-abortion attempt. Under her plea, she was given credit for the 13 months she spent in jail and released immediately.

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The Increasingly Lonely Hope of Barack Obama

Obama syas good-byeYou can tell I’m a lame duck,” Barack Obama joked before his farewell address, on Tuesday night, in Chicago, “because nobody’s following instructions.”

This was a teasing reference to the unbridled whoop of cheers that had gone up as he’d appeared at the podium; despite his best efforts, the President couldn’t convince the twenty-thousand-person congregation of true believers and long-standing aides to quiet down and take a seat.

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Trump to hand over businesses to sons

Trump to hand businesses over to sonsPresident-elect Donald Trump is handing control of his business empire to his two adults sons and placing his assets into a trust in order to address conflict-of-interest concerns, he said Wednesday.

“These are just some of the many documents I have signed turning over complete and total control to my sons,” Trump said at a news conference at Trump Tower in New York, standing beside a stack of manila envelopes piled on a table.

Ethics experts had urged Trump to sell of his assets and place the proceeds into a blind trust, calling it the only way to remove any possible conflicts between his business empire and his presidency.

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Rex Tillerson has a shaky show before skeptical senators

Rex TillersonRex Tillerson had terse exchanges Wednesday with Republican Marco Rubio and other key senators during his confirmation hearing for the role of secretary of state, ducking questions on whether Russian leader Vladimir Putin is a "war criminal" or if the U.S. should sanction Moscow.

The former ExxonMobil CEO was at times astonishingly candid, even curt, at one point telling a senator “a little of both” when asked if he was refusing to answer a question or if he didn’t know the answer. Tillerson also struggled to clarify key issues, stating, for instance, that his company never lobbied against Russian sanctions, even though public records show the oil company repeatedly talked to lawmakers and the White House about the sanctions.

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Israeli Arabs urge general strike after house demolitions

Israeli demolitions of Palestinian housesHundreds of protesters from Israel's Arab minority took to the streets Wednesday in response to the demolition of 11 homes built without proper permits by Israeli authorities, while Israeli Arab leaders called for a general strike in all their towns and villages.

Yousef Jabareen, an Arab member of Israel's parliament, called the demolition in the central city of Kalansua "unprecedented" and vowed to fight further measures.

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