Welcome back, Short Listers! Ashley Shaffer here. It’s only Monday, but we have a lot to catch up on.
But first, breaking: Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is “close to being completed.” So said Acting Attorney General Mathew Whitaker Monday, suggesting the inquiry that’s roiled Washington for nearly two years may be wrapping up. This should be interesting.
‘Minimize talking’ outside: It’s about to get cold
Ice, ice baby: A snowstorm lashing the Midwest will give way this week to record-smashing cold as a giant polar vortex drives a deep freeze across the nation, forecasters say. The National Weather Service in Des Moines, Iowa, warned “this is the coldest air many of us will have ever experienced” and, if outside, to “avoid taking deep breaths, and minimize talking.”
Fallout from the shutdown, plus a SOTU date
A record 35-day government shutdown ended Friday with a temporary deal giving Republicans and Democrats three more weeks to hash out an agreement. Despite the temporary deal, President Donald Trump still wants $5.7 billion for a wall on the southern border, and he’s still threatening to use emergency powers to get it. The end of the shutdown also means Trump will deliver the State of the Union on Feb. 6.
Here’s how the shutdown’s still affecting us:
- Back to work: Most federal employees were back Monday.
- “All of the back pay will be made up”: About 800,000 workers who went without paychecks will get paid back this week, the White House said.
- Economic cost of the shutdown: $11 billion, or about $5 billion more than what Trump wants for the wall.
- Shutdown round two? Trump doubts he’ll accept any agreement from Congress, putting chances at “less than 50-50” that lawmakers will strike a deal in time.
Things with China could get tense
U.S. authorities on Monday announced 23 felony charges against a Chinese company and one of its top executives, a move almost certain to raise tensions between Washington and Beijing. Charges came against telecom giant Huawei and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who’s been held in Canada since last month. A 10-count indictment charged Huawei with theft of trade secrets conspiracy, attempted theft of trade secrets, seven counts of wire fraud, and one count of obstruction of justice.
- Meghan McCain is still a Republican.
- A US-Taliban deal may be close, but the future of Afghanistan remains bleak.
- Does giving blood freak you out? (Yes.) Turns out, it’s not needles that most people fear. It’s fainting.
The NFL fesses up: We blew it
After a blown call shaped a Super Bowl matchup, the NFL has officially acknowledged its mistake: Lawyers for the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell said in a court document filed Sunday that they “do not dispute” what Saints coach Sean Payton told reporters after the game — that the league admitted an officiating error shortly after New Orleans’ 26-23 overtime loss in the NFC championship game. The league’s lawyers noted that “officials on the field are humans” after two Saints ticket holders filed a lawsuit over the game.
The very human ref from that blown call later got heckled while working a college hoops game.
The Jungle Book, but in North Carolina
A 3-year-old boy found alive after he went missing for two days apparently says he spent time with a bear. Casey Hathaway disappeared last Tuesday, last seen in his grandmother’s yard in North Carolina. On Thursday, he was found in good health about a quarter of a mile away, around 50 yards deep into the woods. How did he stay alive? “He hung out with a bear for two days,” his aunt said in Facebook post, not clarifying whether the bear was real or imagined.
The mystery of Ray Lewis’ cream suit
A cream-colored suit worn by Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis hasn’t been seen since Lewis’ limousine departed a bloody crime scene in Atlanta 19 years ago, leading to a question that has haunted families of the deceased: What happened to the suit Lewis wore that night? Lewis later pleaded guilty to a crime related to the fatal stabbings of two men, for obstructing justice.
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