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10 things you need to know today: February 9, 2018

Harold Maass
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1.

Congress passes spending deal to end hours-long shutdown

Congress approved a budget deal early Friday, hours after a deadline passed forcing a partial government shutdown, the second in a month. The House passed the two-year agreement shortly after the Senate did, clearing the way to end the hours-long shutdown. The Senate vote was delayed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in a protest against $300 billion in new military and non-defense spending over two years, but Paul's call for an amendment maintaining existing budget caps was denied. The measure had not been considered a sure thing in the House. Republican fiscal conservatives were upset that it will add to the deficit, and Democrats wanted to add protections for young undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers. [The Associated Press, The Washington Post]

2.

Dow makes second 1,000-point plunge of the week

The Dow Jones industrial average plunged by 1,033 points on Thursday, its second four-digit drop this week. The 4.1 percent drop, along with Monday's 1,175-point dive, erased the blue-chip index's 2018 gains. The Monday and Thursday declines were the Dow's only two 1,000-plus-point one-day losses ever. The S&P 500 fell by 3.75 percent Thursday as investors worried rising economic growth and wages will push the Federal Reserve to speed up interest rate hikes to stem rising inflation. The losses left the S&P 10 percent below its January high, the official threshold of a market correction. President Trump, who had claimed credit for recent stock gains, said investors who sell now are making a "big mistake." Global stocks sank Friday; U.S. stock futures rose. [The Hill, The New York Times]

3.

Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opening ceremony spotlights historic North Korean visit

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics officially kicked off Friday, with fans braving extreme cold to attend the opening ceremony. North Korea and South Korea were marching under one flag, setting aside recently rising tensions for what Seoul is billing as Games dedicated to peace. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister and close confidant, Kim Yo Jong, shook hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during the ceremony, starting a three-day visit that is the first to the South by a member of the North's ruling family since the Korean War. Just before the opening ceremony, the North's senior statesman, 90-year-old Kim Yong Nam, attended a dinner hosted by Moon that was also attended by Vice President Mike Pence, on hand to counter North Korea's charm offensive. [The Associated Press, NBC News]

4.

White House faces fallout over Trump aide accused of domestic abuse

The White House went into damage-control mode on Thursday after facing criticism for its response to allegations of domestic violence against former top aide Rob Porter, who resigned this week. The White House knew about the allegations last year, but as recently as Wednesday, Chief of Staff John Kelly defended Porter as a "man of true integrity." As the nature of the alleged abuse was more broadly reported, Kelly said he "was shocked." White House spokesman Raj Shah conceded Thursday that the White House "could have done better" in dealing with the case in the days before Porter submitted his resignation. Shah said Kelly was not aware of the full story about the allegations because Porter's background check was still ongoing. Porter has denied the allegations. [CNN, USA Today]

5.

Mattis: DREAMers in military won't be deported

Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday that the U.S. would not deport undocumented immigrants serving in the military after being brought to the U.S. as children. Mattis said he confirmed with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that DREAMers will not be subject to deportation proceedings if they are on active duty, in the active reserves, or enlisted and waiting to start boot camp. He said veterans honorably discharged also would be protected. "We would always stand by one of our people," he said. The only exceptions are those who have committed a serious felony, and those who already have received a final deportation order from a federal judge. [Politico]

6.

Appeals court denies 47 Russians' requests to lift Olympic bans

The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Friday denied the appeals of 47 Russian athletes and coaches barred from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, hours before the opening ceremony. The athletes had asked to be invited to participate in the games even though they were not on the list of 168 Russians allowed to participate after being cleared of suspicion in Russia's doping scheme at the Sochi Games of 2014. The 47 athletes turned away included short-track speed skater Victor Ahn, who won multiple gold medals in Sochi and other Olympics. Earlier this week, the International Olympic Committee refused requests from 13 other Russian athletes and two coaches barred from participating even though their lifetime bans for doping had been overturned. [NPR]

7.

California lawmaker and #MeToo advocate faces her own harassment investigation

California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D), a high-profile #MeToo movement advocate, is under investigation herself after a former legislative staffer said she sexually harassed him at an Assembly softball game in 2014. Daniel Fierro, now operating a political communications firm, said Garcia cornered him, appearing intoxicated, and stroked his back, squeezed his buttocks, and tried to grab his crotch. A prominent lobbyist told Politico under condition of anonymity that Garcia tried to grope him at a 2017 fundraiser. Garcia said Thursday that the allegations "have never been brought to my attention until today," and that she had "zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behavior and such behavior is inconsistent with my values." The Assembly has hired an outside firm to investigate and Garcia promised full cooperation. [Politico, The Sacramento Bee]

8.

George W. Bush says Russia clearly meddled in 2016 election

Former President George W. Bush said Thursday that he was convinced that Russia tried to influence the 2016 presidential election. His comments marked a clear split with the view of President Trump, who has questioned the findings of U.S. intelligence, which have concluded that Moscow tried to help Trump win. "There's pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled," said Bush, the last Republican to hold the White House before Trump, at a summit in Abu Dhabi. "It's problematic that a foreign nation is involved in our election system. Our democracy is only as good as people trust the results." The White House did not immediately comment. [The Washington Post]

9.

Family says Weinstein scandal publicity led to Hollywood producer's suicide

Jill Messick, a veteran studio executive, producer, and former manager of Rose McGowan, committed suicide after being caught in a high-profile feud between McGowan and Harvey Weinstein, her family confirmed Thursday. She was 50. In a blistering statement, Messick's family said she had struggled with depression for years and was "broken" by being associated in news reports with McGowan's allegation that Weinstein raped her. Last month, Weinstein's team used a quote from Messick to support his claim that his contact with McGowan was consensual. "Seeing her name in headlines again and again, as part of one person's attempt to gain more attention for her personal cause, along with Harvey's desperate attempt to vindicate himself, was devastating for her," the family said. [The Wrap]

10.

Deal with 49ers makes QB Jimmy Garoppolo NFL's highest-paid player

San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on Thursday reportedly signed a five-year, $137.5 million contract extension, becoming the highest-paid player in professional football. Garoppolo received $90 million guaranteed in the first three years, the biggest three-year paycheck in NFL history. The deal is all the more noteworthy because Garoppolo, 26, has just seven NFL starts under his belt. He spent his first three-and-a-half seasons with the New England Patriots as Tom Brady's backup, starting just twice. His average $27.5 million per season is $500,000 higher than the previous record set by Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford last year. The 49ers are expected to announce the deal Friday. [ESPN, Bleacher Report]

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