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President George W. Bush delivers pizza to Secret Service detail amid government shutdown

President George W. Bush delivers pizza to Secret Service detail amid government shutdownFormer President George W. Bush delivered pizza to his Secret Service detail, who are working without pay due to the partial government shutdown.



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U.S. State Department recalls furloughed employees amid shutdown

U.S. State Department recalls furloughed employees amid shutdownThe U.S. State Department said on Thursday it was calling its furloughed employees back to work next week as it takes steps to pay salaries despite a partial shutdown of the government. “As a national security agency, it is imperative that the Department of State carries out its mission,” Deputy Under Secretary of State Bill Todd said in a statement posted on the department’s website. “Although most personnel operations can resume, bureaus and posts are expected to adhere to strict budget constraints with regard to new spending for contracts, travel, and other needs” given a lapse in congressionally appropriated funds, Todd added.



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Palestinian forces soldier on amid Israeli raids, US neglect

Palestinian forces soldier on amid Israeli raids, US neglectRAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — On a cold winter's night earlier this month, a convoy of 10 Israeli armored jeeps drove into the heart of the West Bank city of Ramallah and parked in front of the Palestinian police headquarters.



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Donald Trump hits back amid claims he concealed details of meetings with Vladimir Putin

Donald Trump hits back amid claims he concealed details of meetings with Vladimir PutinDonald Trump's dealings with Russia have come under fresh scrutiny amid claims the US president concealed details of his conversations with President Vladi­mir Putin.  Mr Trump came out fighting on Saturday night, dismissing as "insulting" an explosive report that claimed the FBI secretly launched an investigation into whether the president was working on behalf of Russia while in office.   Even as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said his panel would look into the report, fresh claims emerged about a lack of transparency surrounding encounters with Mr Putin. After a 2017 meeting with the Russian president in Hamburg, Mr Trump took possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructed the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, the Washington Post reported, citing current and former US officials said. US officials discovered Mr Trump’s actions when a White House adviser and a senior State Department official sought details about the meeting from the interpreter beyond a readout shared by Rex Tillerson, the then-Secretary of State, the newspaper reported.  In what would be considered unusual for any presidency, US officials reportedly said there was no detailed record, even in classified files, of the president's face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader on five different occasions. In a telephone interview with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro on Saturday night, Mr Trump said he did not take particular steps to conceal his private meetings with Mr Putin. “Anyone could have listened to that meeting. That meeting is open for grabs,” he said, without elaborating. Asked if is or has ever been working for Russia, Mr Trump replied: "I think it's the most insulting thing I've ever been asked. I think it's the most insulting article I've ever had written, and if you read the article you'll see that they found absolutely nothing." "I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked…the most insulting article I’ve ever had written & if you read the article, you’d see that they found absolutely nothing."- @realDonaldTrump on NYT FBI report pic.twitter.com/cIB4Sk9ZA1— Jeanine Pirro (@JudgeJeanine) January 13, 2019 Mr Trump went on to say that no president had taken a harder stance against Russia than he had. "If you ask the folks in Russia, I've been tougher on Russia than anybody else, any other … probably any other president, period, but certainly the last three or four presidents," he said. The New York Times reported on Friday that the FBI launched the previously undisclosed counterintelligence investigation to determine whether Mr Trump posed a national security threat, at the same time that it opened a criminal probe into possible obstruction of justice by the president. The decision was said to have been taken after Mr Trump fired James Comey, the FBI director leading the Russia election meddling investigation at the time, in May 2017.  The FBI investigation was subsequently folded into the broader probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is thought to be in the final stages of an investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and possible collaboration by the Trump campaign. No evidence has publicly emerged that Mr Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian officials, the newspaper said. At a glance | Who has been charged by the Russia investigation The president had earlier hit out at the FBI on Twitter, saying  the agency had "no reason" and "no proof" to launch such an investigation.  Mr Nadler said such standard reactions from Mr Trump "do nothing to address the incredibly serious nature of these allegations". "There is no reason to doubt the seriousness or professionalism of the FBI," Mr Nadler said in a statement which said his committee "will take steps to better understand both the president's actions and the FBI's response to that behaviour, and to make certain that these career investigators are protected from President Trump's increasingly unhinged attacks." Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was CIA director at the time the investigation was launched, declined to comment on The New York Times report, but insisted in an interview with CBS that "the notion that President Trump is a threat to American national security is absolutely ludicrous."



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TSA agent creates GoFundMe page to cover his expenses amid government shutdown

TSA agent creates GoFundMe page to cover his expenses amid government shutdownThough they aren't receiving paychecks due to the shutdown, TSA agents are still required to show up to work.



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Florida governor vows to hold officials 'accountable' amid reports of planned suspension of sheriff

Florida governor vows to hold officials 'accountable' amid reports of planned suspension of sheriffDeSantis planned to speak about “holding government officials accountable” on Friday in Fort Lauderdale, at the offices of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, DeSantis’ office said in a statement. The website Politico and the Miami Herald newspaper, citing unnamed sources, reported on Thursday that DeSantis planned to suspend Israel and replace him with a former police sergeant from the Broward County city of Coral Springs. DeSantis, a Republican, while campaigning last year, had expressed interest in suspending Israel over the massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, in which 14 students and three adults were shot to death by a lone gunman.



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Australia FM visits Thailand amid Saudi asylum seeker saga

Australia FM visits Thailand amid Saudi asylum seeker sagaAustralia’s foreign minister Marise Payne met her Thai counterpart Thursday, as her country appeared poised to offer to asylum to a young Saudi woman who fled her family to Thailand in a drama relayed in real-time over Twitter. Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun’s attempt to flee the ultra-conservative kingdom has become a cause celebre for rights groups since the 18-year-old landed in Bangkok from Kuwait over the weekend. Thai authorities had threatened to deport her but with the help of activists, diplomats and a hastily opened Twitter account Qunun launched an impassioned campaign for asylum.



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Egypt border closed to Gazans leaving amid Palestinian feuding

Egypt border closed to Gazans leaving amid Palestinian feudingThe Egyptian border crossing was closed for Palestinians seeking to leave Gaza on Tuesday, a border official said, as infighting between Palestinian factions increases. Gazans seeking to return from Egypt would still be allowed through but no one would be able to leave the Palestinian enclave, a spokesman for the Hamas-run authority in charge of the border crossing said. “For now, it is just for one day, it is not clear if it will be extended,” spokesman Wael Abu Omar told AFP.



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US officials head to Mideast amid tension over Syria pullout

US officials head to Mideast amid tension over Syria pulloutWASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton are hoping their trips to the Middle East can help shore up support from America's partners amid increasing tensions in the region.



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National parks forced to close, hazards mount at others amid government shutdown

National parks forced to close, hazards mount at others amid government shutdownHeavy snowfall in parts of the southwestern United States over the past week resulted in the closure of two national parks in Utah.



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