It’s Valentine’s Day, Short Listers, and my mom’s love life may no longer be our greatest national emergency. I’m personally loving this cuddly alligator and very much not loving the latest gross-sounding allegations about R. Kelly.
Let’s get to today’s top news.
But first: A deadly “zombie” deer disease is now in 25 states. Even worse: One expert claimed it could affect humans.
Trump could declare a national emergency tonight
President Donald Trump will sign a funding bill securing some money for a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border before declaring a national emergency to get more funding for a wall, the White House said Thursday. The Senate-approved measure, which offers $1.375 billion for a 55-mile border barrier – much less than the $5.7 billion that Trump demanded – heads to the House for a vote Thursday evening. If approved, Trump must sign it by midnight Friday to avoid another government shutdown. Declaring an emergency, however, could trigger a legal fight delaying construction at the border. But that drawn-out legal battle would give Trump a potent issue to run on ahead of 2020.
Amazon won’t be king of Queens
Remember that second Amazon headquarters announced for New York City? Yeah, that’s not happening. In a stunning development, Amazon said Thursday it will no longer pursue their new Queens headquarters in Long Island City amid local political opposition. Amazon promised over 25,000 jobs for the city in exchange for up to $3 billion in tax breaks from state and city governments. “While polls show that 70 percent of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence,” the company said.
William Barr is America’s top law officer (again)
The Senate on Thursday made William Barr attorney general, handing him a Justice Department with multiple investigations encircling a president who’s been sharply critical of the agency’s leadership. The largely party-line vote (54-45) came with concerns from some Democrats about how Barr aimed to oversee special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation tied to the 2016 election. Barr, 68, is a widely respected Washington lawyer who already served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush.
- A message to Short Listers in South Carolina: No one has claimed a $1.5B Mega Millions ticket, and time is running out.
- Nike featured Colin Kaepernick in an ad campaign. A Colorado store boycotted the company. Now, the shop is closing.
- Pro tip: Holding up a “Trump 2020” flag on a Disneyland ride can get you kicked out.
Another R. Kelly sex tape? Avenatti says he’s found one
Attorney Michael Avenatti, who repped Stormy Daniels in her battle with Trump, has a new target: singer and accused predator R. Kelly. Avenatti claims he’s unearthed “a bombshell of epic proportions” in a videotape from the 1990s of Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old girl. Avenatti shared it with CNN and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. “It’s over, after nearly two decades of sexual abuse by R. Kelly,” Avenatti told USA TODAY, predicting that the singer would not “survive” the discovery of the alleged tape. CNN reported Thursday that it viewed the tape and says it appears to show a man resembling Kelly having sex with a girl who refers to her body parts as 14 years old and, at several points, calls the man “Daddy.”
Look who decided to show up. El Niño.
Better late than never. After months of promises, our favorite climate agitator finally formed this week, climate scientists said Thursday. To review: El Niño is a periodic natural warming of seawater in the tropical Pacific. It’s one of the biggest influences on weather and climate in the world. All this winter weather lately has had an El Niño flavor, even though it hadn’t officially formed. Weak El Niño conditions should stay through the spring, weather experts say. Storms slamming into the West Coast this week could be related to El Niño, but it’s not certain.
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