‘ART OF THE DEAL’: Senate works together to avoid government shutdown, passes spending plan

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senate leaders announced on Wednesday a proposed spending plan that would boost defense spending and avoid another dreaded government shutdown.

“I am pleased to announce that our bipartisan, bicameral negotiations on defense spending and other priorities have yielded a significant agreement,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in an announcement on the House floor. “The compromise we’ve reached will ensure for the first time in years our armed forces will have more of the resources they need to keep them safe.”

If passed, the two-year budget deal would boost military and non-defense budgets by $300 billion and clear the way for more than $80 billion in disaster relief, with roughly $160 billion dedicated to Pentagon spending and another $128 billion toward non-defense government programs.

Less enthusiastic than McConnel, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said of the agreement, “We have reached a budget deal that neither side loves, but both sides can be proud of.”

The agreement would also include disaster relief for areas stricken by natural disasters and impose a four-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). A $6 billion budget for opioid treatment is also factored into the bill as is $20 billion to be set aside for infrastructure.

Just prior to the proposed legislation being formally made public, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi announced she will vote to prevent it’s passage if the deal isn’t revised to include funding for DACA.

“This morning, we took a measure of our Caucus because the package does nothing to advance bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers in the House,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Without a commitment from Speaker Ryan comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell, this package does not have my support.”

The House passed a short-term spending bill Tuesday, which was aimed at keeping the government operational until a budget deal could be made. That bill also included a full-year of funding for defense spending, which both parties agreed was necessary.

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‘GO TO HELL’: John Kelly calls out military hating California teacher after recorded rant goes viral

WASHINGTON, D.C. — White House chief of staff John Kelly on Wednesday called out a California teacher caught on tape badmouthing the US military, telling him he should “go to hell”.

“Well, I think the guy ought to go to hell,” Kelly, a retired Marine general, told Fox News host Brian Kilmeade during a post-State of the Union interview. “I just hope he enjoys the liberties and the lifestyle that we have fought for.”

Gregory Salcido, the teacher at the center of the controversy, was recorded by one of his El Rancho High School students calling enlisted service members “the lowest of the low” and claimed that those who serve only do so because their parents “didn’t love them”.

“Think about the people who you know who are over there – your freaking stupid Uncle Louie or whatever – they’re dumbsh–s. They’re not like high-level thinkers, they’re not academic people, they’re not intellectual people; they’re the freaking lowest of our low. … They’re not talented people,” Salcido can be heard saying to his students (https://www.whittierdailynews.com/2018/01/29/el-rancho-high-school-teacher-put-on-administrative-leave-following-anti-military-tirade/).

“If you join the military, it’s because you have no other options,” Salcido added.

The video was surreptitiously recorded by a student who said the teacher became enraged that wore a U.S. Marines sweatshirt to class.

“You better not freaking go,” Salcido can be heard yelling at the boy. “Don’t wear that in here.”

The school board investigating the incident say they are shocked by the teacher’s behavior.

“The City Council and residents of Pico Rivera are steadfast in the recognition that the contributions by those who have served or are currently serving our country via military service are respected and we are grateful for their service,” the El Rancho Unified School District said in a statement released to the press (http://www.pico-rivera.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=554&TargetID=1,2,3,7,8,6,11,12,13,14,5,15,16,4,17,18,19).

“The City of Pico Rivera was founded upon the principles, values and sacrifices of many of our veterans who when called upon by our nation served with great pride and honor,” the statement continues. “Those men and women who have proudly served in our nation’s armed forces have proven time and again that personal sacrifice in the face of injustice and tyranny can literally change the world for the better.”

Salcido, 49, was placed on administrative leave in 2012 after a parent claimed he struck her 15-year-old son. He was also suspended in 2010 after a parent alleged the teacher threatened his daughter during a summer school class and made inappropriate comments about race.

He has again been placed under administrative leave pending the outcome of this most recent investigation.

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THE ‘CALM BEFORE THE STORM’? US deploys second nuclear warship, 7,500 marines to North Korea strike zone

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump has ordered The USS Theodore Roosevelt to the western Pacific amid reports that North Korea is about to test a nuclear weapon with capabilities of reaching the United States.

According to military officials, the vessel is expected to join the build-up of warships along the North Korean border.

Admiral Steve Koehler, a strike group commander on the ship, said 7,500 sailors are on board the ship and “ready as a war fighting force”.

“The US Navy carrier strike group is the most versatile, capable force at sea,” he said in a statement before the ship’s launch.

“After nearly a year of training and integration exercises, the entire team is ready as a warfighting force and ready to carry out the nation’s tasking.”

The announcement follows cryptic remarks by President Donald Trump last week as he was hosting a dinner for military commanders and their spouses that the event was “the calm before the storm”.

When pressed for clarification, the president refused to comment other than to say, “you’ll soon see”.

Constitutional law professor Alan Dershowitz said of the president’s comments that they were a warning to North Korea and Iran not to fool with the United States (http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/alan-dershowitz-trumps-calm-before-the-storm-is-a-message-to-north-korea-and-iran/article/2636914).

“North Korea and Iran are taking the measure of President Trump to see how far they can push him and how much they can get away with,” Dershowitz said in an opinion piece for The Washington Examiner. “If these worrisome actions by the two rogue nations persist, there will be a storm.”

Tensions between the United States and North Korea have reached a fever pitch over the course of the past several months. In a series of recent Tweets, President Trump said as diplomatic alternatives continue to fail, use of military force against North Korean leader Kim Jung Un may be America’s only option.

In an interview with Russian media agency TASS (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-trump/north-korea-says-trump-has-lit-the-wick-of-war-russias-tass-agency-idUSKBN1CG28W), North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said in response, “With his bellicose and insane statement at the United Nations, Trump, you can say, has lit the wick of a war against us.”

“We need to settle the final score, only with a hail of fire, not words,” he warned.

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TRUMP TO TRANSGENDERS: ‘YOU’RE OUT’; PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES RETURN TO BAN ON TRANSGENDERS IN MILITARY

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a stunning announcement, President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced an immediate reversal on former president Barack Obama’s policy which allowed transgendered persons to serve in the U.S. military.

In a series of tweets posted to his official Twitter account, the president wrote:

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming..victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”

The announcement quickly caused a wave of backlash from members of the LGBTQ community who called the announcement an offense to transgendered individuals.

“This is worse than don’t ask don’t tell, this is don’t serve, don’t serve,” The National Center for Transgender Equality said in a written statement. “This is an appalling attack on our service members; it is about bigotry rather than military readiness, reason or science. It is indefensible and cannot stand.”

However, the announcement was met with high praise from pro-family and pro-military groups who felt the Obama era policy was harmful to active military members and promoted the wrong priorities.

“I applaud President Trump for keeping his promise to return to military priorities – and not continue the social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation’s military,” FRC President Tony Perkins said in a statement. “The military can now focus its efforts on preparing to fight and win wars rather than being used to advance the Obama social agenda.”

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) was also quick to praise the president’s decision.

“Pleased to hear that @realDonaldTrump shares my readiness and cost concerns, & will be changing this costly and damaging policy #readiness,” Hartzler wrote on Twitter upon hearing the news.

Many believe the decision to reverse the controversial policy was fueled by tough talking Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who last month delayed the review of the Obama mandate that allowed transgender people to join the military.

In a statement in June, Mattis approved a recommendation to defer the decision to allow transgender individuals to join the military, a policy known more commonly as accession. “The services will review their accession plans and provide input on the impact to the readiness and lethality of our forces,” the statement read.

Mattis was asked during his confirmation hearing in January whether he would move to ban openly gay and transgendered from service on the basis that their presence somehow makes the military seem less lethal.

“Frankly, senator, I’ve never cared much about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with,” Mattis responded, but refused to comment as to whether or not he felt their presence eroded the military’s image.

In a statement from The Pentagon, Capt. Jeff Davis refused to comment on the president’s announcement of reversal and deferred all questions on the new policy to The White House.

“We refer all questions about the President’s statements to the White House,” a statement from Davis read. “We will continue to work closely with the White House to address the new guidance provided by the Commander-in-Chief on transgender individuals serving the military. We will provide revised guidance to the Department in the near future.”

A 2016 study by Rand Corp. estimated that approximately 6,630 transgender individuals were actively serving in the U.S. military. The total force is about 1.3 million. Under the Obama mandate, any transgendered person who chose to have gender reassignment surgery would be provided treatment and said surgery on the tax payer’s dime.

Prior to the Obama mandate, the Pentagon banned transgender troops from openly serving in the military. Any transgendered person who intentionally revealed their transgender service would be discharged or denied reenlistment.

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‘I’LL BE BACK’: CANCER STRICKEN MCCAIN VOWS TO RETURN TO SENATE

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Arizona Senator John McCain, who was diagnosed this week with an aggressive form of brain cancer, says he’s faced tougher challenges in his life and doesn’t intend to let his diagnosis keep him for long off the senate floor.

“I’ve been through worse,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R)- SC says McCain told him during a telephone call Wednesday night.

“”God knows how this ends, not me,” Graham told reporters after speaking with McCain. “But what I do know is this disease has never had a more worthy opponent.”

McCain, who currently serves as chairman of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, an aggressive cancer, after having a blood clot removed from above his left eye last Friday.

Graham says he called McCain, who is currently resting at his Arizona home, on Wednesday night to offer words of comfort and support but that McCain quickly turned the discussion toward healthcare and the National Defense Authorization Act.

“Literally, it went five minutes until we turned away from what I think most people have a hard time absorbing and focused on what he loves the best,” Graham said.

Graham, who has worked with the Vietnam war veteran for years and formed a deep friendship while working side by side on the Senate floor, added that it was McCain who wound up encouraging him to stay strong.

“‘No more woe is me, Lindsey,’” Graham recalled McCain telling him after he began choking back tears during their conversation. “He’s yelling at me and to buck up. So I’m going to buck up.”

“He’s coming back,” Graham said. “I think they got it. He’s going to go through radiation and chemo. I’m not a doctor. It may come back and he’ll fight it again. But right now he’s in good spirits. It was a real tough operation. But John is ready to come back.

In a statement via Twitter, John McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, who serves as a political commentator for Fox News spoke of her shock over her father’s diagnosis and her prayers for his swift recovery. “My love for my father is boundless and like any daughter I cannot and do not wish to be in a world without him. I have faith that those days remain far away,” she said.

McCain, 80, was held prisoner of war in North Vietnam war camp for five and a half years during his service in the military. He was released on March 14, 1973 and shortly thereafter began his political career. He has served in the House and Senate since 1982.

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‘WE WON’T HESITATE’: TENSIONS RISE WITH RUSSIA AFTER SHOOT DOWN OF SYRIAN JET

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tensions between the United States and Russia have again reached a fever pitch after a U.S. jet shot down a Syrian aircraft on Sunday, the first time in history a U.S. jet shot down a Syrian plane.

Responding to Russian threats to treat U.S.-led coalition planes flying in Syria, west of the Euphrates River, as targets, a Pentagon spokesperson said Monday that U.S. forces will not hesitate to respond to Russian acts of military aggression.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, in a statement to Russian news agencies, declared his outrage over the incident and compared the shoot down to “helping the terrorists that the U.S. is fighting against.”

“The shooting down of a Syrian Air Force jet in Syria’s airspace is a cynical violation of Syria’s sovereignty,” said Ryabkov. “The US’ repeated combat operations under the guise of ‘combating terrorism’ against the legitimate armed forces of a UN member-country are a flagrant violation of international law and an actual military aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic.”

“What is this, if not an act of aggression,” he asked.

Ryabkov declared that in the wake of the incident, any safety nets between the U.S. and Russia are now off. A hotline, had been set up between Russia and the US to prevent mid-air collisions, has been suspended by Russian officials.

“All kinds of airborne vehicles, including aircraft and UAVs of the international coalition detected to the west of the Euphrates River will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets,” said Ryabkov, who stopped just short of saying that any U.S. planes entering the airspace would be shot down.

“We do not seek conflict with any party in Syria other than ISIS, but we will not hesitate to defend ourselves or our partners if threatened,” Capt. Jeff Davis said in response to Ryabkov’s comments Monday morning.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford echoed Davis’ comments while speaking on Monday at the National Press Club.

“I’m confident that we are still communicating between our operations center and the Russia federation operations center — and I’m also confident that our forces have the capability to take care of themselves,” said Dunford.

In a separate statement, Department of Defense spokesperson Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway said U.S. forces will continue conducting “operations throughout Syria, targeting ISIS forces and providing air support for Coalition partner forces on the ground.”

“As a result of recent encounters involving pro-Syrian Regime and Russian forces, we have taken prudent measures to re-position aircraft over Syria so as to continue targeting ISIS forces while ensuring the safety of our aircrew given known threats in the battlespace,” Rankine-Galloway said.

Sunday’s conflict marked the first time in nearly two decades that U.S. forces have shot down an warplane in air-to-air combat.

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TONIGHT’S STATEMENT IN IT’S ENTIRETY BY PRESIDENT TRUMP ON HIS DECISION TO ORDER A MILITARY STRIKE AGAINST SYRIA:

“My fellow Americans,

On Tuesday, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians using a deadly nerve agent.

Assad choked out the lives of innocent men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack.

No child of god should ever suffer such horror.

Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched.

It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.

There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention, and ignored the urging of the UN security council.

Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically.

As a result the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.

Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.

We ask for god’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world.

We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed.

And we hope that as long as America stands for justice that peace and harmony will in the end prevail.

Goodnight and god bless America and the entire world.

Thank you.”

BREAKING: U.S. LAUNCHES AIRSTRIKES AGAINST SYRIA

The U.S. military has launched an airstrike against a Syrian airfield.

President Trump ordered a cruise missile strike against the rogue nation in retaliation for the chemical weapons attack that killed 86 people on Tuesday, according to U.S. officials.

The attack, the first conventional assault on another country ordered by the new president, comes just one day after he declared that the chemical weapons assault had “crossed many, many lines,” that resulted in the deaths of 27 children.

The missiles fired, reportedly as many as 50, were fired from a U.S. Navy vessel in the Mediterranean Sea.

An official statement on the escalation is expected shortly.

…STORY DEVELOPINGBreakingNewsRed