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The government shutdown continues; a US citizen is being detained in Russia.
- As the partial government shutdown stretches into its 12th day, it looks like there’s no immediate end in sight. [NYT / Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael Tackett]
- Leaving a meeting at the White House on Wednesday, congressional Democrats and Trump still seem on squarely opposite sides, with Trump still pushing for $5 billion for a border wall and Democrats refusing to acquiesce. [Politico / Sarah Ferris and Burgess Everett]
- Democrats will take power in the House tomorrow, and they plan to put up a bill that would fund the government. Their position is that Republicans should work with them to re-fund the government in the short term so they can continue negotiations on the border. [Vox / Li Zhou]
- Unlike Trump, Democrats only want to keep the current funding level of $1.3 billion for border security, and no money for the wall. [Vox / Li Zhou]
- Likely incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hammered that point home during an MSNBC interview. “No,” she said. “Nothing for the wall.” [MSNBC via Twitter]
- Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he won’t entertain a bill that Trump won’t sign — which means that if Trump doesn’t change his mind, the shutdown could potentially go on for weeks. [CNN / Ted Barrett]
- But there could be significant political pressure on Trump and Republicans in the coming weeks. The shutdown began right before the holidays, so there hasn’t been much focus. But federal workers will start to feel the hit on their paychecks, and if the shutdown stretches on for weeks, it could have serious political consequences. [Atlantic / David Graham]
Spy or no spy?
- Over the holidays, Russia arrested a US citizen and retired Marine named Paul Whelan and is holding him in custody, on suspicion of him being a US spy. [CNN / Jason Hanna]
- US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman has traveled to Russia and has been able to meet with Whelan as he’s being held in custody by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). Russian officials haven’t yet given any specifics about why they’re accusing Whelan of being a spy. [NPR / Bill Chappell and Laurel Wamsley]
- Whelan is pushing back hard on Russia’s claims of espionage; they say he was visiting Russia for a wedding as a private citizen. [David Whelan via Twitter]
- Whelan’s arrest comes shortly after Russian citizen Maria Butina pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring as a foreign agent. There are some theories that Russia could be arresting Whelan as some sort of tit-for-tat move, but with so few details about the circumstances surrounding Whelan’s detainment, it’s impossible to know. [Vox / Jen Kirby]
- A galaxy-brain argument that Congress can force the Senate to give more seats to states with more people — without amending the Constitution. [Atlantic / Eric Orts]
- Most eggs you buy in the US come from farms that mass-kill baby male chicks after they’re born, often by suffocating them or feeding them alive into shredders to turn them into reptile food. But now, officially, there are no-kill eggs on the market in Germany. [Guardian / Josie Le Blond]
- The moral case for getting as many self-driving cars on the road as possible, as soon as possible. [Brad Templeton]
- Why isn’t MIT admitting Chinese students? [South China Morning Post / Mandy Zuo]
“Desperately Horny Australian Cane Toads Ride Snake Train to Sex Town.” [Gizmodo / Tom McKay]