👋 Away Message: It's infrastructure week at WTF HQ! This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until May 31. WTF is taking a much needed break to retool ahead of what is shaping up to be a very consequential midterm cycle (we've also had a few unresolvable scheduling snafus/conflicts here, so I'm just going to take a mulligan on this one). In the mean time, we've built a little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding! I'm going to miss you. You'll hear from us again on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for being here.
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1/ On the seventh day of a partial government shutdown, Trump threatened to “close the Southern Border entirely” until he gets the $5 billion in funding for his border wall. Trump also threatened to cut off aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, because – he claims – migrants from those country have been “taking advantage of U.S. for years” as they flee persecution and seek asylum in the U.S. Confusingly, Trump called “closing the Southern Border a ‘profit making operation.’” The shutdown will to continue into 2019 after the House and Senate adjourned on Thursday without taking any action to end the shutdown, leaving the border wall impasse to House Democrats as they assume the majority next week. (ABC News / The Guardian / Washington Post / New York Times)
2/ The Trump administration tweeted advice to furloughed federal workers about how to offer to do chores and other maintenance projects in exchange for rent payments. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management also suggested that the nearly 800,000 workers who have either been furloughed or asked to work without pay to “please consult with your personal attorney” for any required legal advice during the partial government shutdown. (Daily Beast)
3/ The EPA proposed a plan to make it easier for coal-fired power plants to release mercury and other pollutants linked to developmental disorders and respiratory illnesses into the atmosphere. After nearly a decade of restrictions, the plan represents a major shift in the way the federal government calculates the costs and benefits of air pollutants and would weaken the ability of the EPA to impose new regulations in the future by giving less weight to the potential health gains of curbing pollutants. (New York Times / Washington Post / Reuters)
4/ An indicted Russian organization in a court filing referred to a “nude selfie” obtained by Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mueller has collected nearly four million pages of material from the email and social media accounts in the case against the Internet Research Agency, an alleged Russian state-controlled troll farm. The IRA’s lawyer, Eric Dubelier, questioned how there could be any national security concerns related to a nude selfie. Dubelier also represents Concord Management and Consulting LLC, which prosecutors alleged is controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman close to Putin with key ties to Russia’s military and political establishment. Prigozhin is also known as “Putin’s Chef.” Dubelier did not provide information about who is depicted in the photo, but asked the court to lift a protective order that bans him from sending the millions of pages of pre-trial discovery to Russia. (Daily Beast / CNN / HuffPost / Law & Crime)
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