February 14, 2018
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President Trump has gone from scrapping the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program to promising, on camera, to sign any "bill of love" to protect DACA recipients that Congress sends him to, last weekend, accusing Democrats of not being serious about negotiating a bipartisan DACA replacement. Now, a senior administration official tells Axios that Trump "will veto any bill that doesn't advance his common-sense immigration reforms," severely undermining the immigration legislation being forged in the Senate this week.

One of the proposals before the Senate does roughly match the four pillars Trump wants to see in an immigration bill, but the three parts not dealing with DACA focus on long-term curtailing of legal immigration and funding Trump's border wall. "There's almost zero chance the Senate approves a bill Trump will like," Axios notes. The senior White House official, who may or may not be Stephen Miller, told Axios' Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan that Democrats who oppose Trump's approach will "be walking into a political suicide march," but Democrats don't seem to be too concerned.

"Their spin is laughably bad," a Senate Democratic official tells Axios. Trump "ended the [DACA] program. He would be deporting them. Who in their right mind would blame Democrats?" Trump is "using DREAMers as leverage to achieve immigration policies that are broadly unpopular," the Democrat added. Polls show broad support for giving DREAMers — young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children — legal status or citizenship. Two federal judges have ordered the Trump administration to continue the DACA program, at least temporarily, making Trump's March 5 deadline more or less moot. Peter Weber

4:36 p.m. ET

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt isn't going down without a fight.

The EPA chief has had a fraught couple of weeks, plagued by numerous ethics scandals that are sure to be a focus when he testifies before Congress on Thursday. But he's ready to tell lawmakers that there's plenty of blame to go around, according to talking points obtained by The New York Times on Wednesday.

Pruitt and his staff have reportedly prepared a list of responses to "hot topics" that may come up during his hearings with a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee and the House Appropriations Committee. If lawmakers ask about his taking lavish first-class flights that racked up massive taxpayer-funded travel bills, for example, Pruitt plans to say that his security team advised him to do so, and point out that he has "been flying coach" more recently. In response to questions about controversial raises to his favorite aides, he'll say that someone else handled staffing logistics, reports the Times.

Pruitt's opening statement focuses on his work on environmental policy and makes no mention of his ethics issues, but he is apparently expecting quite a grilling regarding the 10 investigations he is currently facing by government watchdog groups.

The document's veracity was not disputed by the EPA, the Times reports, but it's possible that Pruitt's answers will change between the time of creating the talking points and his hearing Thursday. Read more at The New York Times. Summer Meza

3:04 p.m. ET

The Milky Way galaxy contains about 300 billion stars — way more than any one human could possibly hope to see. But the European Space Agency wants to help intrepid stargazers try.

The ESA's Gaia mission has been collecting data on the stars in the Milky Way since 2013, NPR reported. On Wednesday, the group used that information to release the most detailed star map of the galaxy we've ever had.

Over the past five years, the Gaia spacecraft has captured images of the sky roughly every six months, allowing scientists to understand information about some 1.7 billion stars by comparing images when they're at different positions in the sky, Popular Mechanics reported. Now that the database is publicly available, scientists from all across the world can use that information in their research.

Gaia's data barely scratches the surface of what's out there, but "the exact brightness, distances, motions, and colors" of all those stars is valuable information for astronomers, NPR explained. "We're really talking about an immense change to our knowledge about the Milky Way," said David Hogg, an astrophysicist at New York University and the Flatiron Institute.

You can visually explore our galaxy below, or look through the data Gaia has collected on the ESA's website. Shivani Ishwar

2:20 p.m. ET
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Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is poised to propose tripling the minimum rent for some of America's poorest families, a move that comes as the White House has pushed for adults to "shoulder more of their housing costs and provide an incentive to increase their earnings," The Washington Post reports. While tenants receiving federal housing assistance are required to pay 30 percent of their adjusted income toward housing, with a $50 cap for the poorest groups, Carson would push for a 35 percent contribution with a cap of $150.

The legislation, which is already opposed by some groups, would have to be approved by Congress. "When we are in the middle of a housing crisis that's having the most negative impact on the lowest income people, we shouldn't even be considering proposals to increase their rent burdens," said Diane Yentel, the president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The White House and Carson have made a number of adjustments and proposals concerning federal rental assistance recipients, citing the goal of encouraging "work and self-sufficiency." Jeva Lange

2:03 p.m. ET

Users of gay dating apps like Grindr and Hornet are at risk of entrapment in countries like Egypt where police seek to crack down on LGBT citizens, The Verge reports.

Undercover police officers will chat with Egyptians on a dating app, The Verge explains, and then arrange for their arrest once they agree to meet in person. While homosexuality isn't illegal in Egypt, government officials often target LGBT individuals with debauchery charges and use arrests and raids as a way to create a public statement, The Verge reports.

App developers have taken steps to help protect users from falling prey to these traps, sending out alerts and encouraging users to keep their profiles anonymous. Grindr, which usually displays how far users are from one another, keeps distances private in the Egyptian version of the app. It has also made options to password-protect the app and make it look more inconspicuous on a phone's home screen.

But more extensive safety features would take major engineering work, The Verge notes, and wouldn't necessarily prevent users from being targeted by law enforcement anyway. LGBT advocacy groups in the region are encouraging users to know the risks, and are additionally providing attorneys for meet-ups in case things go wrong.

The cultural differences between app developers in California and users in Egypt make it difficult to overcome the regional challenges, a digital rights group worker, Dia Kayyali, told The Verge. "You have to address the fact that governments have people who are specifically manipulating the platform to hurt people," Kayyali said. Read more at The Verge. Summer Meza

1:54 p.m. ET
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Audio of an October 2017 meeting between NFL owners, executives, and player leaders obtained by The New York Times reveals the conflict the league's management faced as President Trump ramped up his criticism of the national anthem protests last fall. "The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don't feel is in the best interests of America," New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told the room, despite his close relationship with the president. "It's divisive and it's horrible."

The players in the room "sounded aggravated" on the topic of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who initiated kneeling during the national anthem, and how he remains unsigned — a fact many believe is the result of collusion by the owners. Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long announced that "we all agree in this room as players that he should be on a roster." The owners pushed back, with Houston Texans owner Bob McNair instructing the players to enforce no kneeling on their teams. "You fellas need to ask your compadres, fellas, stop that other business, let's go out and do something that really produces positive results," he said, "and we'll help you."

Afterward, Kraft suggested a statement with the word "unified" or "unity," with the final product claiming the executives, owners, and players discussed plans "to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change." Read more about the tape obtained by The New York Times here. Jeva Lange

1:13 p.m. ET
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Based on questions raised by Supreme Court justices on Wednesday during the oral arguments in Trump v. Hawaii, which concerns President Trump's ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries, there does not appear to be an obvious five-judge majority to strike down the ban, The Washington Post reports. Lower courts have struck down three iterations of the ban to date, claiming it improperly overrides congressional lawmaking power, engages in "nationality discrimination," and does not demonstrate that "nationality alone renders entry of this broad class of individuals a heightened security risk or that current screening processes are inadequate."

As it stands now, the ban bars travelers from seven countries, although only the Muslim-majority ones are a part of the challenge: Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, and Somalia (Chad was originally included in the ban but was removed from the list earlier this month). Travelers from North Korea and Venezuela are also barred under the ban. Trump had specifically called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" when he introduced the idea in late 2015.

Conservative justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch pressed acting solicitor general Neal K. Katyal, who is representing Hawaii, on how exactly Trump has overstepped his legal grounds with the ban. Alito in particular noted that only 8 percent of the world's Muslim population would be affected by the ban, saying "a reasonable observer would not think this was a Muslim ban," The Washington Post reports. Read more about where the SCOTUS justices appear to stand on the debate here.

Jeva Lange

12:22 p.m. ET
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French President Emmanuel Macron was all smiles with President Trump during their joint press conference Tuesday, but his Wednesday speech to Congress made it clear where their views diverge.

Macron appeared before Congress to address lawmakers as a part of an official state visit by France, where he denounced several of the Trump administration's policy moves, CNN reports. Macron encouraged the U.S. to refrain from turning inwards, urging lawmakers away from nationalism and toward policies with a more global view.

"I do not share the fascination for new strong powers, the abandonment of freedom and the illusion of nationalism," Macron said, per Reuters. "We can choose isolationism, withdrawal, and nationalism — this is an option. It can be tempting to us as a temporary remedy for our fears. But closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world."

Macron expressed certainty that the U.S. would rejoin the Paris climate agreement "one day" and described the urgency of protecting the environment. "There is no planet B," he said.

He additionally pledged to keep France locked into the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump called "insane" Tuesday. Macron appealed to Congress to remain in the deal, saying it was the better choice as there is no "substantial" alternative. Summer Meza

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