1-17-19 Four U.S. service members were killed during an explosion in Syria.

Four U.S. service members were killed during an explosion in Syria.

Early yesterday, four Americans were killed in a suicide bombing at a restaurant in the Syrian town of Manbij. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the blast, which took at least 11 additional lives. Before this, only two other U.S. service members had been killed in Syria since 2014. This attack comes less than a month after President Trump stated, “We have won against ISIS…We’ve taken back the land and now it’s time for our troops to come back home.”

U.S. troops are still in Syria?

Short answer, yes. There are around 2,000 troops still in the country, with no specific timeline as to when they will be withdrawn. It’s also not clear whether or not this attack will affect withdrawal plans.

What else?

Hours after the attack, Pence remarked at a conference, “The caliphate has crumbled, and ISIS has been defeated.” Yes, that happened *after* the bombing.



Nancy Pelosi tells Trump to reschedule the State of the Union.

The annual address was scheduled for January 29, but Pelosi sent the President a letter yesterday asking him to delay it over “security concerns” related to the shutdown. She later told CNN that staffers who normally ensure security at the address have been furloughed.

What if he doesn’t want to reschedule?

Pelosi says he “can make it from the Oval Office if he wants,” or deliver the address in writing. Unless, of course, he agrees to reopen the government in the meantime.

Can she do that?

Yup. It hasn’t happened before, but it’s apparently up to the House speaker to extend an invitation to the President. If Pelosi doesn’t want Trump to give the address, Trump won’t give the address.



Federal judge denies lawsuits filed by unpaid workers.

District Judge Richard Leon said no to three separate requests filed on behalf of federal workers who have been required to continue working during the shutdown. Basically, Leon said that Congress has control over government money, and the judiciary can’t get involved.

Is that final?

Thankfully no. Preliminary injunctions were granted for all three suits, meaning the attorneys will have one more shot to make their case before the judge makes a final decision. Those arguments will take place at the end of the month.

So how many people are working without pay?

Originally, there were about 420,000. But just this week, Trump put another 50,000 workers back on the job.



The OTHER confirmation hearing going on right now.

With so much attention focused on the confirmation fight over AG nominee William Barr, the confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler, the acting chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, has been going under the radar. Democrats have been grilling Wheeler over his record of rolling back environmental regulations (which he insists he’s “very proud of”), but just like the Barr nomination, they won’t have enough votes to block him.

Who is this again?

Wheeler is the former coal lobbyist who replaced future coal lobbyist Scott Pruitt. He’s been in the job since July, making him the longest-serving acting chief in the history of the EPA.



Immediate global action could still keep climate change in check.

New research shows there’s still time to keep global warming to less than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, which would mean “a significantly lower risk of drought, floods, heatwaves and poverty for for hundreds of millions of people.”


If countries around the world begin phasing out fossil fuel infrastructure right now, the researchers say there’s a 64% chance of staying under that threshold. 



Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lands a spot on the House financial committee.

AOC says she’s “looking forward to digging into the student loan crisis, examining for-profit prisons/ICE detention, and exploring the development of public & postal banking. To start.”


Progressives set sights on Democratic incumbents.

Justice Democrats, the progressive group that backed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the midterms, is already planning to challenge Democratic incumbents in safe blue districts in 2020. Their first target? Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), whom they say votes with Trump around 70% of the time.


More and more restaurants are giving out meals to unpaid workers.

Sad that they have to, cool that they are.


Tell Google to stop offering a ‘gay conversion’ app.

Sign this petition to demand that the Google Play Store “remove this hate app that marginalizes and stigmatizes LGBT people.”



She was forced to marry at 13 years old. The U.S. government gave her husband a visa.

by Reed Redmond 

Naila Amin was just 8 years old when her family forced her into an engagement with an older man. A dual citizen of Pakistan and the United States, Naila tells the AP, “I was a passport to him. They all wanted him here, and that was the way to do it.”

At age 13, Naila was married to him in Pakistan. Her family forced her to apply for a U.S. visa for her new husband, a 26-year-old Pakistani citizen. While the application was being processed, she lived with him in Pakistan, where she says he beat her and sexually assaulted her. Naila eventually returned to the U.S., with the assumption that he would follow soon after. Looking back, she recalls, “My sunshine was snatched from my life.”

Despite Naila’s age, the visa application was approved. To escape her situation, Naila ran away from home before he came to the U.S. She spent the rest of her childhood in group homes and foster care. Now 29, she wonders, “I was a child. I want to know: Why weren’t any red flags raised? Whoever was processing this application, they don’t look at it? They don’t think?”

How could this happen in the U.S.?

That’s a good question, especially considering the U.S. government has made an effort to stop the practice of child marriage abroad. In 2016, the U.S. State Department adopted a global strategy “to reduce (girls’) risks of child, early, and forced marriage.” U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) even states on their website, “The U.S. government is opposed to forced marriage and considers it to be a serious human rights abuse.” But federal immigration laws and state marriage requirements continue to allow for this to happen.

Naila’s case is not an exception. Because there is no minimum age requirement to apply for a visa for a spouse, USCIS approved thousands of visa applications like Naila’s between 2007 and 2017. By continuing to approve these applications, the U.S. government — the same government that recognizes child marriage as a human rights violation — is treating child marriages as legitimate.

What can I do?

Check out Girls Not Brides, a nonprofit “committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfil their potential.” On their website, you can find a whole bunch of ways to take action, from sharing facts on social media to supporting projects around the world.



The Leftovers

Second lady Karen Pence will be teaching at a school that bans LGBTQ employees and students. To apply, she had to initial a statement on “moral misconduct” including “homosexual or lesbian sexual activity.”

The Harlem Globetrotters are offering free tickets to federal workers. Globetrotter President Howard Smith stated, “As the Ambassadors of Goodwill, we want to show our support to all those government workers whose paychecks, and by extension their families, are directly impacted.”

Steve Carell is set to star in a Netflix series based on Trump’s Space Force proposal. Space Force all the way!

NASA employees staged a protest in Houston. About 50 furloughed employees stood outside the Johnson Space Center, some holding PayDay candy bars.

Food stamp recipients don’t know when they will receive their next payment. As state agencies hand out benefits for February, they are warning recipients to budget grocery purchases while the shutdown continues.

Fake editions of the Washington Post were distributed in D.C. yesterday. They were dated May 1, 2019, with the front page featuring a story about Trump’s resignation.

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