Puerto Rico Utility Workers Charge That Federal Government Is Hoarding Reconstruction Supplies –  Kate Aronoff January 16 2018, 9:50 a.m.

After armed federal agents entered a warehouse owned by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, known as PREPA, on January 6, they said the warehouse had contained rebuilding materials that they seized to distribute on the island. The Intercept’s report on the incident has led to calls on the island for criminal prosecutions of PREPA officials, with the governor referring the matter to the Department of Justice.

“PREPA affirms that the [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] and their contractors have had access to them since before the alleged discovery,” Gov. Ricardo Rosselló wrote in the statement asking the Department of Justice to investigate the matter. “Therefore, we are referring the matter to the Department of Justice in order to analyze the facts and determine whether there was a commission of crimes or negligent action.”

In a statement issued Wednesday night, Puerto Rico Senate minority leader Eduardo Bhatia said, “Lying about not having the parts to cover the inefficiency of PREPA is outrageous and those responsible must be taken before state and federal authorities to be criminally processed immediately.”

But PREPA isn’t the only player involved in the island’s grid restoration efforts with a cache of materials. Photos sent to The Intercept from UTIER, the electric utility workers’ union in Puerto Rico, show another store of materials — many of them more recently acquired and potentially immediately useful to rebuilding efforts — at a warehouse in Ponce controlled by the USACE itself.

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Steve Bannon refuses lawmakers’ questions, following ‘White House instructions’ – Ben JacobsFirst published on Tue 16 Jan 2018 20.53 EST

Democrat says Bannon’s lawyer said former strategist, facing subpoena, would otherwise have been willing to respond

Steve Bannon refused to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee during a closed-door session, even after he was issued a subpoena to testify by the committee on Tuesday, saying that the White House had told him not to.

Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said during a news conference after the marathon hearing, that Bannon’s lawyer had told the committee that the former White House aide “was willing to answer our questions but under instructions from the White House not to”. Schiff condemned what he called “a gag order from the White House”.

Bannon, the former Breitbart head, testified before the committee but refused to answer any questions about his time in the transition, in the Trump administrationand even after he left the White House.

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The hearing was left in recess and the subpoena remains in effect, which means that Bannon could be called back to testify under oath.

Schiff said: “This was the first time we saw a witness refuse to answer the questions under the instructions of the White House or claim that the White House might later invoke privilege.”

Earlier on Tuesday, it was reported that Bannon had received a grand jury subpoena last week from the special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.

The intelligence committee’s chair, Devin Nunes, acknowledged its subpoena to reporters earlier Tuesday. “Of course I authorized the subpoena,” said the California Republican. “That’s how the rules work.”

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The US military is preparing for a possible war against North Korea – Alex Ward Jan 16, 2018, 5:43pm EST

But there’s an active diplomacy campaign right now to ensure it doesn’t happen.

Naval Aircrewman 2nd Class Alexander Grimes sits aboard an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the “Black Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 4 near Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.
US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Michael Hogan

The United States military is preparing for a still-unlikely war with North Korea.

That’s the takeaway from two big stories that broke over the long weekend. On Sunday, the New York Times reported that US troops are actively holding training exercises specifically geared toward a possible war with North Korea. And the Associated Press reported on Monday that the US has now started sending ships and bombers toward the Korean Peninsula, beefing up its military presence in the region.

But that’s not all. It looks like Japan has started thinking about ways to evacuate thousands of its citizens from South Korea if war with North Korea does break out.

If you missed any of it because you wanted to enjoy a drama-free long weekend, no worries. We’ve got you covered.

America is preparing for a possible war with North Korea

War with North Korea doesn’t appear imminent, especially with the 2018 Olympics in South Korea due to start on February 9. But the US is preparing for that possibility all the same.

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WITHIN HOURS OF Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech last week, the internet had somehow transformed the moment from the capstone of an exceptional career in entertainment to the launch of a new political ascendant: President Winfrey. #Oprah2020 surged on Twitter. Quinnipiac University tweaked their polls to pit Trump against Winfrey. Etsy sellers began rolling out Oprah campaign merch. It was on.

Why not Oprah? Politicians have long used rousing speeches as a ticket to a national campaign; Obama’s 2004 DNC keynote address charted a path that led to the Oval Office. And for viewers, the presentation of the Cecil B. DeMille Award looked a lot like political convention, albeit a glitzier, more attractive audience (and a significantly more presidential-seeming speaker than the current holder of the office).

Besides, as many love pointing out, the floodgates are open. While Donald Trump’s presidency may be an anomaly—the result of a strange confluence of events that landed a reality TV show star in America’s highest office— it may also be is a tipping point that, once breached, allows celebrities to become serious candidates for president. Certainly, the combination of a rabid 24-hour news cycle and social media has been a powerful tool for the aspiring self-appointed politician. If Trump could weaponize his social following into votes then why not, say, Selena Gomez, who boasts the largest following on Instagram? How long before President Kim Kardashian? What happens when Jake Paul’s fans turn 18 and can vote? The idea that leading a nation requires experience governing something other than a billion-dollar company and a Twitter empire no longer jibes with today’s true governing metric: social reach.

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No Closer To DACA Deal, Republicans Push Plan B To Keep Government Open Scott Neuman – January 17, 20183:07 AM ET

Demonstrators protest at Sen. Dean Heller’s, R-Nev., office in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and Temporary Protected Status (TPS), programs on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

Jose Luis Magana/AP

President Trump and congressional Democrats appear no closer to a deal on protecting “Dreamers” from deportation, but GOP lawmakers are working on a Plan B that would — if approved — prevent an election-year shutdown of the government, extending funding at least another month.

A continuing resolution is due to expire this Friday, but Republicans have proposed kicking the can down the road once more with an extension on stop-gap funding through Feb. 16.

Democrats have threatened a no-vote on any spending resolution that does not include an extension of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. However, Republicans hope that by including a two-year delay on implementation of unpopular taxes on medical devices and high-end employer-subsidized health care plans and a six-year reauthorization of the children’s health program, or CHIP, they can get enough Democrats to come on board.

Rank-and-file Republicans seem to like the deal and are hoping for a vote on Thursday, just ahead of the Friday deadline.

As NPR’s Susan Davis reports, “The general consensus among members is this is simply a vote to buy time to continue negotiations on immigration and budget talks, and they want to cast the vote as a vote for/against a shutdown.”

Susan reports that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has taken the lead negotiating role for House Republicans. He is planning a meeting Wednesday with Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn as well as Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Stenny Hoyer.

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Cutting Aid To Pakistan & Strippers On Strike: VICE News Tonight Full Episode (HBO) – VICE News Published on Jan 15, 2018

This is the January 8, 2018, FULL EPISODE of VICE News Tonight on HBO. 3:44 Last year, Michael Elleman, a weapons expert at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, published an alarming claim about North Korea’s recent missile gains: they may have been getting technology from a one-time Soviet factory. 10:37 The Trump administration uses its $255M aid package to Pakistan to spur it to action. 13:39 VICE News takes a look at the future of the Democratic Party through the lens of the People’s House Project. Krystal Ball’s organization is dedicated to helping Democrats win elections by running candidates who have strong ties to their communities.