Several states to join California lawsuit against Trump’s border emergency declaration

Several states will reportedly be joining a lawsuit California is preparing to file against the Trump administration over the president’s move to declare a national emergency to get funding for his proposed border wall. 

The states include New Mexico, Oregon, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii and Connecticut, according to CBS News. A spokesperson for Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser (D) told KDVR, a local news affiliate, that Colorado would also be joining the suit. 

California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraCalifornia AG says state will ‘definitely and imminently’ sue Trump over national emergency declaration California to sue Trump over border wall emergency declaration Overnight Energy: Court rules for Trump in environmental case over border wall | House bill would stop Alaska refuge drilling | Ads target Dems over Green New Deal MORE (D) and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) have already announced plans to sue President TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he ‘opened a case against’ Trump McCabe: Trump said ‘I don’t care, I believe Putin’ when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during ‘bizarre’ job interview MORE over the emergency declaration. 

Becerra said Sunday that a lawsuit from the state was imminent. 

“We are prepared,” Becerra said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We knew something like this might happen. … We are ready to go.”

Trump on Friday declared a national emergency to allocate nearly $8 billion for construction of his long-sought border wall. The president made the announcement from the Rose Garden as he agreed to sign a spending bill that did not include his request for $5.7 billion in funds to construct a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Becerra said that the state is confident it has the legal grounds to challenge Trump’s executive action. 

“We’re confident there are at least 8 billion ways that we can prove harm,” he said. “It’s become clear that this is not an emergency, not only because no one believes it is, but because Donald Trump himself has said it’s not.”

Newsom said in a statement last week that Trump was “manufacturing a crisis and declaring a made-up ‘national emergency’ in order to seize power and subvert the constitution.”

“Our message back to the White House is simple and clear: California will see you in court,” he said. 

Poland pulls out of Israel meeting over anti-Semitism and Nazi comments

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By Associated Press

WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s prime minister canceled plans for his country to send a delegation to meeting in Jerusalem on Monday after the acting Israeli foreign minister said that Poles “collaborated with the Nazis” and “sucked anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk.”

The Polish pullout triggered the collapse of a planned summit of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu with leaders of four Central European nations known as the Visegrad group.

With the Hungarian and Slovak prime ministers already in Israel, bilateral meetings will take place instead, according to announcements by Czech Prime Minister Andrei Babis and Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.

Netanyahu had touted the meeting as an important step in his outreach to the countries of Central Europe, which have pro-Israeli governments that he is counting on to counter the criticism Israel typically faces in international forums.

The developments mark a new low in a bitter conflict between Poland and Israel over how to remember and characterize Polish actions toward Jews during the German occupation of Poland in World War II.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had already announced Sunday that he was pulling out of the meeting after a comment by Netanyahu last week about Polish cooperation with Nazis.

Morawiecki cancelled Polish participation altogether after comments made by Israel’s acting foreign minister, Israel Katz, which he denounced as “racist” and “absolutely unacceptable.”

Poland’s Foreign Ministry also summoned the Israeli ambassador, Anna Azari, to demand a second set of clarifications in recent days.

Monday’s development marks a deterioration of a spat that began last Thursday when Netanyahu said: “Poles cooperated with the Nazis.”

Netanyahu’s office said he was misquoted. The Polish government first summoned the Israeli ambassador on Friday but said it was not satisfied with the explanation of the Israeli leader being quoted incorrectly.

Israel’s acting foreign minister, Israel Katz, made his remarks Sunday in an interview on Reshet 13 TV.

“I am the son of Holocaust survivors,” he said, in his first day in the new job. “The memory of the Holocaust is not something to compromise about. It is obvious. We will not forget, and we will not forgive.”

He then vowed that no one would change the historical truth of what happened.

Israel Katz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP – Getty Images

“Poles collaborated with the Nazis, definitely. Collaborated with the Nazis. As (former Israeli Prime Minister) Yitzhak Shamir said — his father was murdered by Poles — he said that from his point of view they sucked anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk. You can’t sugarcoat this history,” he said.

Poland was the first occupation of Adolf Hitler’s regime and never had a collaborationist government. Members of Poland’s resistance and government-in-exile struggled to warn the world about the mass killing of Jews, and thousands of Poles risked their lives to help Jews.

However, Holocaust researchers have collected ample evidence of Polish villagers who murdered Jews fleeing the Nazis, or Polish blackmailers who preyed on the Jews for financial gain.

Florida 6th-grader arrested after confrontation over pledge

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — A Florida sixth-grader faces charges of disrupting a school function and resisting arrest after a confrontation that followed his refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

In a statement, Lakeland Police say a school resource officer was alerted to a disturbance created by a student in the classroom at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy on Feb. 4.

According to police, the student initially refused to leave the room, continued to be disruptive and made threats while being escorted to the school’s office by the officer and the school’s dean.

The statement says the student was charged based on his failure to comply with the officer’s and the dean’s orders, not his refusal to participate in the pledge. Polk County students aren’t required to stand for the pledge.

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Ex-boyfriend named as person of interest in Valentines Day disappearance of Pennsylvania woman

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

Police in Pennsylvania are looking for the ex-boyfriend of a 27-year-old woman who went missing on Valentine’s Day.

Kittanning Borough Police on Sunday named John Eugene Colbert, 30, as a person of interest in the disappearance of Katie Stoner, who has been missing since the evening of Feb. 14.

Katie L. Stoner, left, and John Eugene Colbert.Kittanning Borough Police

Police said Colbert, from New Castle, which is about 50 miles west of Kittanning, is also wanted by other law enforcement agencies.

They said Colbert, who is 6’3 and has a tattoo on his forearm that says “loyalty,” used to date Stoner.

Stoner was wearing a yellow North Face hooded sweatshirt, grey plaid Vans shoes and a black coat with a brown fur hood when she disappeared, police said. She has a cut on her left eye, burn marks on her wrists and a tattoo on her ankle that says “Daddy’s little girl.”

Kittanning police are asking for anyone with information on the whereabouts of either Colbert or Stoner to contact them.

Trump lashes out at treasonous officials

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionMcCabe: “There were concerns about Trump’s intent”

US President Donald Trump has issued an angry response after a TV interview on Sunday alleged that officials had held discussions to have him removed.

Mr Trump tweeted of “illegal and treasonous” behaviour and an “illegal coup attempt”.

In the interview, ex-acting FBI chief Andrew McCabe said talks had been held in 2017 about invoking a clause that can remove a president deemed unfit.

The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman has vowed to investigate the claims.

Lindsey Graham said the claims were an “attempted bureaucratic coup”.

Mr McCabe said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had held discussions on the number of cabinet members and others needed to invoke the clause, the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution.

How has Mr Trump responded to the claims?

In a series of tweets on Monday morning, he condemned “so many lies by now disgraced acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. He was fired for lying and now his story gets even more deranged.

“He and Rod Rosenstein, who was hired by [then Attorney General] Jeff Sessions (another beauty), look like they were planning a very illegal act, and got caught.”

Mr Trump added: “There is a lot of explaining to do to the millions of people who had just elected a president who they really like and who has done a great job for them with the military. Vets. Economy and so much more. This was the illegal and treasonous ‘insurance policy’ in full action!”

The president quoted a comment on the Fox and Friends programme saying this was “an illegal coup attempt”, adding “True!”

The White House said Mr McCabe, who was fired last year for allegedly lying to government investigators, had “no credibility”.

The justice department said Mr McCabe’s account was “inaccurate and factually incorrect”.

What’s the background to this?

Allegations that Mr Rosenstein discussed invoking the 25th Amendment were first reported last year by the New York Times.

However, Mr McCabe’s quotes are the first to be made on the record from someone present at the meeting where the alleged comments were reportedly made – in May 2017, after Mr Trump fired FBI director James Comey.

“The discussion of the 25th Amendment was simply [that] Rod raised the issue and discussed it with me in the context of thinking about how many other cabinet officials might support such an effort,” he said.

Mr McCabe also said Mr Rosenstein was openly “counting votes, or possible votes” and that he was “very concerned” about the president “his capacity and about his intent at that point in time.”

“To be fair, it was an unbelievably stressful time… it was really something that he kind of threw out in a very frenzied chaotic conversation.”

Mr Rosenstein has previously strongly denied having such discussions, saying there was “no basis” to invoking the amendment.

What else did Mr McCabe say?

In the 60 Minutes interview, aired on Sunday, Mr McCabe also covered allegations Mr Rosenstein had offered to secretly record Mr Trump, amid concerns about possible obstruction of justice relating to the investigation into alleged collusion between the president’s campaign team and Russia.

Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

Rod Rosenstein previously said there was “no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment”

When the allegations first emerged in the New York Times, Mr Rosenstein said the report was “inaccurate and factually incorrect”.

A source told the BBC at the time that Mr Rosenstein’s comment “was sarcastic and was never discussed with any intention of recording a conversation with the president”.

However, Mr McCabe said that Mr Rosenstein “was not joking. He was absolutely serious”.

“It was incredibly turbulent, incredibly stressful. And it was clear to me that that stress was – was impacting the deputy attorney general.”

He added: “I never actually considered taking him up on the offer.”

What was Sen Graham’s response?

He described Mr McCabe’s comments as “stunning” and pledged to hold a hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee to determine “who’s telling the truth”.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Senator Lindsey Graham said he was “stunned” by the latest comments by Andrew McCabe

H said he could issue subpoenas – a court order forcing a witness to appear to give testimony – “if that’s what it takes”.

The powerful committee he chairs oversees the US judiciary.

What is the 25th Amendment?

It provides for the removal of a president if he or she is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of office”. What this exactly means is open to interpretation.

Duties are transferred to the vice-president.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionThe 25th Amendment: Could it be used to unseat Trump?

Activating the relevant section of the 25th Amendment would require the approval of eight of the 15 members of Mr Trump’s cabinet, the vice-president and two-thirds majorities in Congress.

Ronald Reagan and George W Bush used the amendment to temporarily transfer power when they were medically anaesthetised.

Who is Andrew McCabe?

He took over as acting director of the FBI in 2017 and was himself fired as deputy director in March last year just two days before he was due to retire.

He was sacked by Jeff Sessions, who said an internal review had found he leaked information and misled investigators.

Mr McCabe denied the claims and said he was being targeted because of his involvement in the Russian collusion inquiry.

He has now written a book on his time in his posts.

U.S. Congress advances border security bill without Trump border wall

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON, Feb 14 (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress on Thursday aimed to end a dispute over border security with legislation that would ignore President Donald Trump’s request for $5.7 billion to help build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border but avoid a partial government shutdown.

Late on Wednesday, negotiators put the finishing touches on legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, along with a range of other federal agencies.

Racing against a Friday midnight deadline, when operating funds expire for the agencies that employ about 800,000 workers at the DHS, the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice and others, the Senate and House of Representatives aimed to pass the legislation later on Thursday.

That would give Trump time to review the measure and sign it into law before temporary funding for about one-quarter of the government expires.

RELATED: Trump visits border wall prototypes amid protests

22 PHOTOS

President Trump visits border wall prototypes amid protests

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US President Donald Trump is shown border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

People hold signs during a protest while standing in front of the current border fence and near the prototypes of U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall, in Tijuana, Mexico March 13, 2018. The sign on the right reads “Trump, walls can be jumped over”. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

US President Donald Trump inspects border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

People attach a sign reading “Trump, stop the mass deportations” to the current border fence and near the prototypes of U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall, during a protest in Tijuana, Mexico March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

US President Donald Trump’s motorcade arrives at the border fence in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

People hold signs reading “No to the wall” and “Trump, put your wall, but in your territory, not in ours”, during a protest near the prototypes of U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall, seen behind the current border fence, in Tijuana, Mexico March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

US President Donald Trump is shown border wall prototypes with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A man holds a sign reading “Trump, put your wall, but in your territory, not in ours”, during a protest near the prototypes of U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall, seen behind the current border fence, in Tijuana, Mexico March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

US President Donald Trump arrives to inspect border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

People hold signs reading “No to the wall, Trump,” and “Trump, we are not enemies of the USA” during a protest near the prototypes of U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall, seen behind the current border fence, in Tijuana, Mexico March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

US President Donald Trump speaks during an inspection of border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018.
Donald Trump — making his first trip to California as president — warned there would be ‘bedlam’ without the controversial wall he wants to build on the border with Mexico, as he inspected several prototype barriers. The trip to the ‘Golden State’ — the most populous in the country and a Democratic stronghold — was largely upstaged by his own announcement that he had sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
/ AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Mexican Federal Police officers stand guard the Mexican side of the Mexico-US border in Tijuana, Baja California state, from where prototypes of the border wall, which US President Donald Trump will inspect on the outskirts of San Diego, in the US, are visible on March 13, 2018.
Fresh off a cabinet reshuffle, President Donald Trump was headed for Democratic stronghold California on Tuesday to inspect prototypes of the controversial border wall with Mexico that was the centerpiece of his White House campaign. / AFP PHOTO / GUILLERMO ARIAS (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images)

People hold signs reading “Trump, we will not pay for the wall” and “Trump, stop the mass deportations” near the border fence between Mexico and the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Journalists gather at a rooftop near the US -Mexico border as President Trump is expected to inspect the border wall prototypes built outskirts San Diego, in Tijuana, Baja California State, Mexico, on March 13, 2018.
Fresh off a cabinet reshuffle, President Donald Trump was headed for Democratic stronghold California on Tuesday to inspect prototypes of the controversial border wall with Mexico that was the centerpiece of his White House campaign. / AFP PHOTO / GUILLERMO ARIAS (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. police officers use a ladder to climb up a truck parked in front of the prototypes of U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall, on the U.S. side of the current border fence, in Tijuana, Mexico March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes

An agent faces Mexico while standing by the vehicle of U.S. President Donald Trump at the border near San Diego, California, where Trump reviewed wall prototypes designed to serve as a protective barrier against illegal immigrants, drugs and smuggled weapons, March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol Agent sits on horseback near U.S. President Donald Trump’s motorcade during a tour of U.S.-Mexico border wall prototypes near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego, California. U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

TIJUANA, MEXICO – MARCH 13:Anti-Trump protestors demonstrate on the Mexico side of the border before the arrival of the U.S. President to inspect the prototypes of the proposed border wall on March 13, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The motorcade carrying US President Donald Trump drives past a US-Mexico border fence as Trump head for an inspection of border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018.
Donald Trump — making his first trip to California as president — warned there would be ‘bedlam’ without the controversial wall he wants to build on the border with Mexico, as he inspected several prototype barriers. The trip to the ‘Golden State’ — the most populous in the country and a Democratic stronghold — was largely upstaged by his own announcement that he had sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
/ AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Mounted Border Patrol agents are seen as US President Donald Trump inspects border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018.
Donald Trump — making his first trip to California as president — warned there would be ‘bedlam’ without the controversial wall he wants to build on the border with Mexico, as he inspected several prototype barriers. The trip to the ‘Golden State’ — the most populous in the country and a Democratic stronghold — was largely upstaged by his own announcement that he had sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
/ AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump inspects border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018.
Donald Trump — making his first trip to California as president — warned there would be ‘bedlam’ without the controversial wall he wants to build on the border with Mexico, as he inspected several prototype barriers. The trip to the ‘Golden State’ — the most populous in the country and a Democratic stronghold — was largely upstaged by his own announcement that he had sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
/ AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump holds up a poster of before and after photos of a segment of the border wall prototypes with Chief Patrol Agent Rodney S. Scott (R) in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

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Failure to do so would shutter many government programs, from national parks maintenance and air traffic controller training programs to the collection and publication of important data for financial markets, for the second time this year.

“This agreement denies funding for President Trump’s border wall and includes several key measures to make our immigration system more humane,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, a Democrat, said in a statement.

According to congressional aides, the final version of legislation would give the Trump administration $1.37 billion in new money to help build 55 miles (88.5 km) of new physical barriers on the southwest border, far less than what Trump had been demanding.

It is the same level of funding Congress appropriated for border security measures last year, including barriers but not concrete walls.

Since he ran for office in 2016, Trump has been demanding billions of dollars to build a wall on the southwest border, saying “crisis” conditions required a quick response to stop the flow of illegal drugs and undocumented immigrants, largely from Central America.

He originally said Mexico would pay for a 2,000-mile (3,200-km) concrete wall – an idea that Mexico dismissed.

34 PHOTOS

Various types of homes, lifestyles in shadow of the border fence

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A shoe and clothes pins are seen on a clothes line next to a section of the border fence separating Mexico and the United States, on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico, March 3, 3017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

Tourists take pictures next to the fence separating Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, February 24, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

Mexican Carlos, 27, who says that he was deported from the United States, heats up tortillas at his house near the double fence that separates Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

Pensioner Pedro, 72, rests outside his home near a section of the fence separating Mexico and the United States, on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico, February 21, 2017. “Neither Trump nor the wall is going to stop anyone, maybe just for a moment,” he said. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

Pants hang on a section of the fence separating Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

A man is fishing next to the fence separating Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, February 24, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

Mexican carpenter Porfirio, 68, stands near a section of the fence separating Mexico and the United States, on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico, February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

Joaquin, 36, a chef from Guatemala who says he was deported from the United States, builds a bed in a tree, near a section of the border fence separating Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, February 26, 2017. “I’ve tried to cross so many times that the (U.S.) border guards even got to know me, but I never made it back,” said Joaquin, who makes a living by collecting trash in Tijuana that he tries to sell to a local recycling plant. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

Joaquin, 36, a chef from Guatemala who says he was deported from the United States, poses for a photograph while leaning on a section of the border fence separating Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, February 26, 2017. “I’ve tried to cross so many times that the (U.S.) border guards even got to know me, but I never made it back,” said Joaquin, who makes a living by collecting trash in Tijuana that he tries to sell to a local recycling plant. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

A man sells hot dogs next to the fence separating Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, February 24, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

Mexican carpenter Porfirio, 68, cuts his son’s hair outside their home near the border fence separating Mexico and the United States, on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico, February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

Pensioner Pedro, 72, is seen at his house near a section of the fence separating Mexico and the United States, on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico, February 26, 2017. “Neither Trump nor the wall is going to stop anyone, maybe just for a moment,” he said. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

Pensioner Pedro, 72, caresses his dog Orejona outside his home near a section of the fence separating Mexico and the United States, on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico, February 23, 2017. “Neither Trump nor the wall is going to stop anyone, maybe just for a moment,” he said. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

A shopping cart with a typical Mexican hat and a broom are seen next to the fence separating Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

A member of the U.S. border patrol inspects the area where the border fence separating Mexico and the United States is interrupted, on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico, February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

The border fence separating Mexico and the United States is seen through a hole of a second border fence in an area where double border fences were built, in Tijuana, Mexico, February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

A family burns trash near a section of the border fence separating Mexico and the United States, on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico, February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

A girl runs outside her home near a section of the fence separating Mexico and the United States, on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico, March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

Mexican architect Carlos Torres, 68, adjusts signs near the double border fences separating Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, February 25, 2017. “Walls won’t halt immigration,” Torres said. Trump, he said, “doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Here at this fence, people keep crossing every week.” REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

A girl climbs stairs near a section of the fence separating Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Carpenter Moses and dental assistant Sara’s home stands near a section of the fence separating Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, March 5, 2017. “Trump is a good actor, a racist and is ignorant of God and people. Kennedy said, we are brothers and no walls are needed,” Sara said. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

Mexican architect Carlos Torres, 68, is reflected in a glass window of his house near a section of the double border fences separating Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, March 1, 2017. “Walls won’t halt immigration,” Torres said. Trump, he said, “doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Here at this fence, people keep crossing every week.” REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

Pilar, 27, a housewife, cleans her house near a section of the fence separating Mexico and the United States, on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico, March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

A house stands near a section of the fence separating Mexico and the United States, on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico, February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

A shack stands next to a section of the border fence separating Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

Joaquin, 36, a chef from Guatemala who says he was deported from the United States, sits underneath a tree near a section of the border fence separating Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, February 28, 2017. “I’ve tried to cross so many times that the (U.S.) border guards even got to know me, but I never made it back,” said Joaquin, who makes a living by collecting trash in Tijuana that he tries to sell to a local recycling plant. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

A section of the border fence separating Mexico (L) and the United States is seen on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico, February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

The Mexican neighborhood Nido de Aguilas is seen next to the border fence separating Mexico and the United States, on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico, March 2, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

A painting of Jesus Christ is seen on the wall of a house, next to a section of the border fence separating Mexico and the United States, on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico, March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

A house stands next to a section of the border fence separating Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

A section of the fence separating Mexico and the United States is seen, on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico, February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

An officer of the U.S. border patrol inspects the area where the border fence separating Mexico and the United States is interrupted, on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico, February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido SEARCH “FENCE GARRIDO” FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “WIDER IMAGE” FOR ALL STORIES.

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Trump has not yet said whether he would sign the legislation into law if the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and Republican-led Senate approve it, even as many of his fellow Republicans in Congress were urging him to do so.

Instead, he said on Wednesday he would hold off on a decision until he examines the final version of legislation.

But Trump, widely blamed for a five-week shutdown that ended in January, said he did not want to see federal agencies close again because of fighting over funds for the wall.

Senator Richard Shelby, the Republican negotiator who is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a Twitter post he spoke to Trump later on Wednesday and he was in good spirits. Shelby told Trump the agreement was “a downpayment on his border wall.”

‘NATIONAL EMERGENCY’

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is in regular contact with the White House, said Trump was “inclined to take the deal and move on.”

But Graham also told reporters that Trump would then look elsewhere to find more money to build a border wall and was “very inclined” to declare a national emergency to secure the funds for the project.

Such a move likely would spark a court battle, as it is Congress and not the president that mainly decides how federal funds get spent. Several leading Republicans have cautioned Trump against taking the unilateral action.

Under the bill, the government could hire 75 new immigrant judge teams to help reduce a huge backlog in cases and hundreds of additional border patrol agents.

Hoping to reduce violence and economic distress in Central America that fuels immigrant asylum cases in the United States, the bill also provides $527 million to continue humanitarian assistance to those countries.

The House Appropriations Committee said the bill would set a path for reducing immigrant detention beds to about 40,520 by the end of the fiscal year, down from a current count of approximately 49,060.

Democrats sought reductions, arguing that would force federal agents to focus on apprehending violent criminals and repeat offenders and discourage arrests of undocumented immigrants for minor traffic violations, for example.

17 PHOTOS

Migrants trekking to the United States rely on faith

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Pastor Jose Murcia, 47, preaches to migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America traveling to the U.S., outside a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 24, 2018.

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Nicolas Alonso Sanchez, 47, from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., poses for a picture as he holds a cross at a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 24, 2018. “God helped me and gave me the strength, helped me to make my dreams come true. God gave me all the strength to get all the way here,” Sanchez said. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America traveling to the U.S., pray before food distribution outside a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico December 1, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Juan Francisco, 25, from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., shows his tattoo of the 23rd Psalm of the Book of Psalms as he poses for a picture outside a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 26, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Victor Alfonso, 29, from Guatemala, part of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., poses for a picture as he wears charms depicting the Virgin of Guadalupe at a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 26, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

David Amador, 25, from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., poses for a picture as he holds a cross at a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 28, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America traveling to the U.S., raise their hands while praying before moving by buses to a new shelter, in Tijuana, Mexico November 30, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

A migrant, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America traveling to the U.S., is wrapped with a banner depicting the Virgin of Guadalupe in front of a riot police cordon, as migrants try to reach the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico in Tijuana, Mexico November 25, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Herso, 17, from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., poses for a picture as he wears a t-shirt depicting the Virgin of Guadalupe outside a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 24, 2018.

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

A booklet of Psalm 119:105 is left on a self-made tent at a temporary shelter of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico November 27, 2018.

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Migrants, part of a caravan from El Salvador traveling to the U.S., pray as they are blocked by the Mexican police during an operation to detain them for entering the country illegally, in Metapa, Mexico November 21, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America traveling to the U.S., raise their hands as they listen to the preaching of pastor Jose Murcia (not pictured) outside a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 24, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

A migrant, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America traveling to the U.S., sleeps with a book in Spanish “What does the Bible teach us?” in a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 24, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

A writing “Jesus Christ is the Lord” is seen on a car window outside a temporary shelter for a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico November 24, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Elmer, 29, from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., poses for a picture as he holds an icon depicting Jesus Christ and the Virgin of Guadalupe while lining up for food distribution outside a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 24, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Juan Francisco, 25, from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S., shows his tattoo reading “I can do everything with Christ who strengthens me” as he poses for a picture outside a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico November 26, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

An image of the Virgin of Guadalupe is seen in a tent of migrants part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, on a street in Tijuana, Mexico, December 15, 2018.

(REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

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The Senate Appropriations Committee, which is run by Republicans, said there were provisions in the bill that could result in an increase in detention beds from last year.

Lowey said the bill would improve medical care and housing of immigrant families in detention and expand a program providing alternatives to detention.

The wide-ranging bill also contains some important domestic initiatives, including a $1.2 billion increase in infrastructure investments for roads, bridges and other ground transport, as well as more for port improvements.

With the 2020 decennial census nearing, the bill provides a $1 billion increase for the nationwide count. Also, federal workers, battered by the record 35-day partial government shutdown that began on Dec. 22 as Trump held out for wall funding, would get a 1.9 percent pay increase if the bill becomes law.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan Editing by Robert Birsel and Chizu Nomiyama)

U.S. ally Turkey looks to Russia and Iran to protect its interests

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By Dan De Luce

WASHINGTON — As Trump administration officials presided over the second day of an international conference in Warsaw dominated by calls to ratchet up pressure on Iran, one longtime U.S. ally and NATO member was noticeably absent — Turkey.

Snubbing the gathering in Poland, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday attended a rival conference in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where he planned to meet his Russian and Iranian counterparts to work out a final settlement of the war in Syria.

The dueling summits illustrate President Donald Trump’s struggle to forge a united front against Iran, and reflect Turkey’s drift away from Washington as it finds common ground with Moscow and Tehran, experts and former officials said.

For decades, the U.S. could count on Turkey as a reliable partner that would line up with other allies against Iran and support Washington’s strategic goals. But the political landscape has changed, U.S. influence in the region is in doubt, and Ankara is staking out an independent course, said Colin Clarke, senior research fellow at the Soufan Center, a New York-based think tank.

“I think we’re seeing a realignment,” Clarke told NBC News. “The U.S. has gone from the position where we called the shots, to where we are making mere suggestions to Turkey. That’s a major sea change.”

Turkey’s relations with Washington have come under mounting strain since Erdogan was elected president in 2014, as the Turkish leader has pushed back on U.S. policies and carried out a crackdown on dissent. But the conflict in Syria has opened up the most dramatic divide between the two countries, with Ankara infuriated at Washington’s support for Kurdish forces in Syria, which it sees as a terrorist threat.

When national security adviser John Bolton flew to Ankara in January, Erdogan refused to meet him and expressed outrage at U.S. demands that Turkey refrain from launching strikes against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria.

Civilians wait at a makeshift checkpoint after fleeing ISIS from the Syrian city of Bagouz on Feb. 9, 2019.Chris McGrath / Getty Images

“We cannot swallow . . . the message that Bolton gave in Israel,” the Turkish president said, and added that Bolton “probably doesn’t know” the difference between ethnic Kurds and armed Kurdish groups.

With the U.S. planning to withdraw its small contingent of 2,000 troops in Syria within months, Turkey has recognized for some time it must reach an accommodation with Russia and Iran to safeguard its interests in Syria, experts said.

“The real power brokers in Syria are Iran and Russia,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a former senior official under the Obama administration and now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a think tank.

The three countries meeting in Sochi have emerged as the dominant players in what appears to be the final phase of the Syrian civil war. Russia and Iran came to the aid of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and have succeeded in turning the tide of the conflict in Assad’s favor.

A Syrian Democratic Forces fighter stands guard on a rooftop after retaking the city of Raqqa from ISIS fighters on Oct. 20, 2017.Bulent Kilic / AFP/Getty Images file

Turkey cultivated Islamist rebel groups opposed to Assad that have been beaten back for the most part. But Russia and Iran need Turkey’s help in squelching the rebels in their last strongholds in the northern province of Idlib, and Ankara needs Russian and Iranian cooperation to ensure Kurdish forces are kept in check and to pave the way for Syrian refugees to return, former U.S. diplomats said.

“I am confident that our trilateral summit on Syria will provide a new impulse toward stabilization in this country,” Putin said before the talks began in Sochi.

In discussions with Ankara, U.S. officials have revived the idea of a protected “buffer zone” for the Kurds in the northeast, but Erdogan has said any such area would have to be coordinated with Russia.

When an uprising erupted in Syria in 2011, Erdogan had hoped to see Assad fall. But Turkey has since come to accept that Assad is firmly in place, and that the Syrian regime’s patrons — Russia and Iran — will be needed to prevent a Kurdish state forming on Turkey’s southern border, said Aykan Erdemir, a member of the Turkish parliament from 2011-2015.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the media at the parliament in Ankara on Jan. 8, 2019.Burhan Ozbilici / AP

“Turkey realizes it has lost in Syria. And the Kurdish issue has always been the top priority for Turkey,” said Erdemir, now a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a hawkish think tank. And that “means you have to work with Russia,” he said.

As U.N. peace talks on Syria foundered in recent years despite backing from the United States, Turkey joined up with Russia and Iran for an alternative peace process that soon overshadowed the U.N. effort, a result that made the United States look impotent, foreign diplomats and experts said.

At a moment when Turkey’s fragile economy is plagued by debt and inflation, Ankara is anxious to retain close economic cooperation with Moscow, as it relies on gas supplies from Russia and revenues from Russian tourists and from Turkish contractors in Russia, Erdemir said. After a Russian fighter jet was downed by Turkey in November 2015, Moscow banned charter vacation trips to the country, dealing a severe blow to Turkey’s tourism industry.

Erdogan also sees Russia as an important alternative source for weapons. Ankara has ignored warnings from two successive U.S. administrations against buying the Russian-made S-400 missile system and Turkish officials say the plan to wrap up the purchase later this year.

Musa, a 25-year-old Kurdish marksman, stands atop a building as he looks at the destroyed Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on Jan. 30, 2015. Kurdish forces recaptured the town on the Turkish frontier in a symbolic blow to the jihadists who have seized large swathes of territory in their onslaught across Syria and Iraq.Bulent Kilic / AFP – Getty Images file

Turkey is not alone in seeking to cultivate Russia, as other U.S. partners in the Middle East — including Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates — see Moscow as stepping into a vacuum left by the U.S., offering arms and energy deals.

“Everybody in the region is looking at Russia,” Goldenberg said. “With their relatively small intervention in Syria, they were basically were able to turn the tide in a regional war.”

Like Russia, Turkey has opposed the Trump administration’s hardline on Iran, and Erdogan has threatened to defy the U.S. sanctions reimposed on Tehran, calling them an “imperial” policy. During the last round of sanctions that preceded the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, Turkey was accused of turning a blind eye to sanctions busting.

The Trump administration last year granted Turkey an exemption to allow it to purchase oil from Iran, though at lower levels. But it remains clear if the White House is ready to renew the waiver to Ankara later this year.

Erdogan’s harsh treatment of political opponents, journalists and other critics, along with his preference for an Islamist political model at the expense of the country’s secular traditions, has put him at odds with the United States and the European Union. But he has dismissed Western objections, and his supporters point out that the democracies of Europe refused to open the door to Turkey’s request for EU membership for years.

Turkey has also bristled at America’s close embrace of Riyadh, opposing Saudi Arabia’s embargo on Qatar while competing with the kingdom to serve as the region’s leading Sunni power.

When the Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul in October, Erdogan’s government leaked out damning details of the incident, forcing Riyadh to revise its official explanation more than once. “Turkey saw an opportunity to embarrass the Saudis, to gain leverage,” Goldenberg said.

So far, Turkey has yet to pay a serious price for its disagreements with Washington and European powers. Congress has threatened to sanction Turkey if it goes ahead with acquiring the Russian-made S-400 missiles, and Trump threatened to imposed sanctions if Ankara crushed the Kurds in Syria. But Erdogan has calculated that the United States is not ready to hit its old ally hard with punitive measures, experts said.

“I think he believes he has impunity in relations with the EU and the U.S., ” Erdemir said of the Turkish president. “Erdogan knows that Putin will push back, Iran will push back, not but the U.S.”

Josh Lederman contributed.

We Live With It Every Day: Parkland Community Marks One Year Since Massacre

Suzanne Devine Clark, an art teacher at Deerfield Beach Elementary School, places painted stones at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the first anniversary of the school shooting Thursday.

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Suzanne Devine Clark, an art teacher at Deerfield Beach Elementary School, places painted stones at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the first anniversary of the school shooting Thursday.

Wilfredo Lee/AP

At 2:21 p.m. on Feb. 14, 2017, the first gunshots began to reverberate through the hallways of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, leaving 14 students and three educators dead; 17 others were wounded.

One year later at 10:17 a.m., silence descended on Florida’s schools.

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said the time was chosen because most students would be in class and for the symbolism of 17 minutes after the hour honoring the 17 killed and the 17 injured.

Marjory Stoneman freshman Jayden Jaus, 14, told the Associated Press that the moment of silence was “a bit emotional and a little intense.” The principal read the victims’ names over the public address system.

Margate Fire Rescue Community Emergency Response Team member Peter Palmer wipes his eyes while looking at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Thursday.

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Margate Fire Rescue Community Emergency Response Team member Peter Palmer wipes his eyes while looking at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Thursday.

Wilfredo Lee/AP

The high school did not hold regular classes; rather, the school hosted a “Day of Service and Love.” Students were invited to participate in projects including serving breakfast to first responders and packing meals for underprivileged children.

Some students arrived at school Thursday wearing the signature burgundy #MSDStrong T-shirts.

Grief counselors and therapy dogs were available.

Inspirational messages painted on stones placed at an outdoor memorial included “You are courageous,” “Be here now” and “Communities that paint together heal together.”

Painted stones at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

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Painted stones at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

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Sophomore Julia Brighton told the A.P. she could not bear to enter the school, opting to set flowers at the outdoor memorial instead. She said it “felt like it would be a better experience for me instead of being at school and putting myself through that.”

By noon, the school shut for the day.

Outside of school, the Broward County School Board sponsored community service projects at a park.

At the Coral Springs Museum of Art, free “relaxing” activities including music, massage and a mini petting zoo were also on offer.

Several candle-lit and prayer vigils were scheduled throughout the day to give people a chance to gather and mourn communally.

For Linda Beigel Schulman, the pain of losing her son is just as sharp one year on.

“I walked down the path today and it was just like reliving last year when we walked down the path,” she said at a Parkland news conference. Her son, Scott Beigel, a geography teacher and cross country coach, was shot dead after unlocking his door to let in fleeing students.

The days that have passed since February 14, 2017, have been marked by shock, by physical recovery, by outrage and by activism.

Surviving students formed March for Our Lives, a national movement to end gun violence and mass shootings, helping propel dozens of gun safety laws at the state level.

Among the changes, Florida raised the minimum firearm purchasing age from 18 to 21 and enacted a “Red Flag” law empowering authorities to temporarily remove guns from someone believed to pose a threat.

But with partisan logjams thwarting change at the federal level, the National Rifle Association remaining a powerful force for gun rights and school shootings a continued reality, activists say much work remains.

On Thursday, however, March for Our Lives leaders put down their megaphones and stepped back from social media.

Jaclyn Corin, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and a co-founder of March For Our Lives told NPR that survivors of other school shootings had advised her and her friends to press pause.

“We don’t know how we’re going to feel,” said Corin said of the first anniversary. “I think it’s the proper thing to go dark — actually spend that day to ourselves in our own thoughts.”

Survivor David Hogg, one of the movement’s most prominent leaders, said he will be taking a three day break from Twitter. “Please remember the people [who were] stolen from us that day; they are why we fight for peace.”

“We don’t need [the anniversary] to remind us what happened,” Andrew Pollack told the AP. He has become an advocate for school safety since his 18-year-old daughter Meadow was killed in the attack. “We live with it every day.”

On Thursday, Fred Guttenberg was thinking about the morning a year ago when he sent his two children off to school and only one came home.

“I am forever haunted by my memory of that morning, rushing my kids out the door rather than getting one last minute. Did I say I love you?”

Guttenberg, who who has become another prominent gun safety activist, said he would be visiting Jaime’s grave on Thursday.

Meantime, across the country in New Mexico, a shot was fired Thursday morning at a suburban Albuquerque school. Students were evacuated from V. Sue Cleveland High School and anxious parents were kept away awaiting word about their kids. Police said nobody was injured and a suspect, who is a student at the school, was taken into custody. A handgun was recovered inside the school.

“It was extremely scary,” said Rio Rancho Police Chief Stewart Steele. “It sent my heart in my throat and I wasn’t in the school. So I can’t imagine being a student in the school.”

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller noted the timing of the scare coinciding with the Parkland anniversary. “We cannot keep accepting this as normal,” he tweeted.

Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general

The Senate voted Thursday to approve William Barr as attorney general, giving the Justice Department its first confirmed chief since President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers introduce bill to fund government, prevent shutdown Trump mulling 60-day delay for China tariff deadline Contractor back pay not included in shutdown deal MORE ousted Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsUnited Methodist churches may cut ties with denomination over push to allow LGBT ministers Former Trump aide launches coalition to pass new NAFTA Is a presidential appointment worth the risk? MORE last fall.

Senators voted 54-45 for Barr’s nomination, capping off a relatively low-drama fight over Trump’s second pick for the post. Barr was largely on a glide path after he cleared the Judiciary Committee and a procedural vote without any missteps that threatened GOP support for his nomination.

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate poised to confirm Trump’s attorney general pick Manchin to vote for Trump’s attorney general pick Paul to oppose Trump’s AG nominee MORE (Ky.) was the only Republican who voted against Barr on Thursday, while Democratic Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate poised to confirm Trump’s attorney general pick Senate votes to extend key funding mechanism for parks Manchin to vote for Trump’s attorney general pick MORE (W.Va.), Doug Jones (Ala.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) broke with their party and supported him.

Democrats have 47 seats in the Senate. With Manchin, Jones and Sinema voting earlier in the week to advance Barr’s nomination, Democrats would have needed to flip six Republicans in addition to Paul to sink his nomination.

But Republicans largely rallied behind Barr, who previously served as attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush and is returning to the helm of a department that has been at the center of Trump’s longtime criticism over the federal Russia probe.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Defense: House votes to end US support for Saudis in Yemen | Vote puts Trump in veto bind | Survey finds hazards in military housing | Senators offer new bill on Russia sanctions On The Money: Lawmakers race to pass border deal | Trump rips ‘stingy’ Democrats, but says shutdown would be ‘terrible’ | Battle over contractor back pay | Banking panel kicks off data security talks Bipartisan Senators reintroduce legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia MORE (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, characterized Barr as an “outstanding” pick to lead the agency, which has been under the leadership of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker since Sessions was ousted in November.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by America’s 340B Hospitals — Utah tests Trump on Medicaid expansion | Dems roll out Medicare buy-in proposal | Medicare for all could get hearing next month | Doctors group faces political risks on guns Trump raises fracking, abortion in meeting with Cuomo Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America’s 340B Hospitals — Powerful House committee turns to drug pricing | Utah governor defies voters on Medicaid expansion | Dems want answers on controversial new opioid MORE (R-Iowa), the former chairman and current member of the Judiciary panel, added that Barr will be “a straight shooter and an individual who is willing to engage in productive discussion with Congress.”

Democrats have raised concerns for weeks over Barr’s views on executive power and special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s probe into the 2016 election. As attorney general, Barr is set to take over oversight of the investigation, which is also reportedly examining whether Trump sought to obstruct justice by interfering in the probe.

Trump’s fight with former top law enforcement officials was brought back into the forefront on Thursday after former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeWhy an obstruction case against Donald Trump will most likely fail McCabe accuses Trump of acting like mob boss in new book: report McCabe: Rosenstein wrote Comey memo under duress MORE revealed that he opened a probe into whether Trump obstructed justice when he fired FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyWhy an obstruction case against Donald Trump will most likely fail Criminal investigation of Trump’s business dealings may overshadow any ‘Mueller report’ Former senior FBI official calls Whitaker hearing ‘disgraceful’ MORE in May 2017.

McCabe also said that top Justice Department officials were so concerned about Trump’s decision to fire Comey that they discussed an effort to remove him from office by invoking the 25th Amendment. Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinWhy an obstruction case against Donald Trump will most likely fail Criminal investigation of Trump’s business dealings may overshadow any ‘Mueller report’ Five takeaways from acting AG’s fiery House hearing MORE, who has been overseeing the special counsel’s Russia probe since 2017, has denied the 25th Amendment talk.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerChristie: Trump doesn’t give nicknames to people he respects Cuomo to meet with Trump over SALT deduction cap Bill setting US policy in Middle East makes world safer MORE (D-N.Y.) said before the vote on Barr on Thursday that the circumstances around Mueller’s probe make the threshold for supporting an attorney general nominee higher than normal.

“The next attorney general must be a public servant in the truest sense, with the integrity, the force of will, and the independence to navigate the Justice Department – and maybe our democracy – through treacherous waters. Mr. Barr’s attitude: leave it to me. That is not good enough,” Schumer said.

He added that Barr “does not recognize nor appreciate the moment we’re in.”

Barr circulated an unsolicited memo on Mueller’s probe last year, including with the White House, describing the investigation as based on a “fatally misconceived” theory and as something that would do “lasting damage” to the presidency.

Barr told senators during his confirmation hearing last month that he would let Mueller finish his investigation, that Trump would not be allowed to “correct” Mueller’s final report and that he would make Mueller’s findings public in accordance with the law.

Democratic Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerPoll: Biden, Sanders, Harris early Dem favorites in New Hampshire Dems offer smaller step toward ‘Medicare for all’ Holder says he will make 2020 decision in coming weeks MORE (N.J.), who is running for his party’s 2020 nomination, also pointed to Barr’s views on criminal justice reform and racial inequality within the justice system as part of the reason he voted against the nomination.

“We need an attorney general that grasps the urgency of the moment, who is aware of the impact of the Department of Justice on communities across this country,” Booker said, “and who is willing and prepared to protect our most fundamental rights.”

Paul, the only Republican to vote “no,” said he had concerns about Barr’s views on privacy. Paul has frequently sparred with GOP leadership on surveillance and foreign policy issues. He voted against CIA Director Gina Haspel last year and threatened to vote against Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: House votes to end US support for Saudis in Yemen | Vote puts Trump in veto bind | Survey finds hazards in military housing | Senators offer new bill on Russia sanctions Pompeo: US will hold Russia accountable for poisoning of ex-spy in UK The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine – Getting Trump to ‘yes’ on border security deal MORE’s secretary of State nomination before doing a last-minute reversal.

“I have too many concerns about the record and views of this nominee. Bill Barr was a leading proponent of warrantless surveillance, and his overall record on the Fourth Amendment is troubling to me. I remain concerned that Bill Barr does not agree with our bipartisan efforts to reform our criminal justice system,” Paul said after an initial vote earlier this week.

He added that he believed Barr also has a “troubling record on the Second Amendment.”

Barr served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under Bush. He’s also spent more than a decade in corporate roles before joining the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

He’ll succeed Whitaker in the top Justice Department spot. Whitaker, who was previously Sessions’s chief of staff, has been filling the role in an acting capacity. Whitaker’s views on Mueller have earned him criticism from Congress, including his suggestion that Mueller would be crossing a “red line” by investigating Trump’s finances.

Updated: 1:40 p.m.

PM defeated over Brexit strategy

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Media captionSpeaker announces government defeat in Commons vote

Theresa May has suffered a fresh defeat in a Commons vote on her approach to Brexit by 303 to 258.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on the prime minister – who did not take part in the debate – to “admit her Brexit strategy has failed”.

Tory Brexiteer rebels abstained, saying the government’s motion implied a no-deal Brexit would be ruled out.

Ministers said that was not the case but defeat would make life more difficult for the PM in EU talks.

Live: Reaction to May’s Brexit defeat

Downing Street blamed Mr Corbyn for the defeat, saying he had “yet again put partisan considerations ahead of the national interest” by voting against the government’s motion.

A No 10 spokesman said the PM would continue to seek legally-binding changes to the controversial Irish backstop, as MPs had instructed her to do in a Commons vote on 29 January.

“While we didn’t secure the support of the Commons this evening, the prime minister continues to believe, and the debate itself indicated, that far from objecting to securing changes to the backstop that will allow us to leave with a deal, there was a concern from some Conservative colleagues about taking no deal off the table at this stage,” he added.


Analysis

By BBC Assistant Political Editor Norman Smith

The prime minister this evening suffered another perilous and decisive Brexit defeat – despite frantic last minute attempts to win over disgruntled Tory Brexiteers.

A defeat which, while it has no legal force, seems set to shatter the uneasy truce on the Tory backbenches.

All day, talks between Number 10 and Mrs May’s backbench opponents have rumbled on, with Brexiteers unhappy that the government appeared to be ruling out a no-deal Brexit.

Number 10 warned hardline Leavers that defeat for Mrs May would scupper attempts to negotiate the revised Brexit deal they wanted. All seemingly to no avail.


The latest Commons defeat came after the pro-Brexit Tory European Research Group announced they had taken a “collective decision” to abstain.

Members of the group, which is chaired by Jacob Rees-Mogg said supporting the motion would have amounted to an endorsement of efforts to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

Downing Street had earlier warned that defeat could damage the prime minister’s negotiating position, as she seeks to make changes to the controversial backstop “insurance policy” in her deal to avoid customs checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the ERG told BBC News the group still supported efforts to get “alternative arrangements” to replace the controversial Irish backstop plan, describing Mrs May’s defeat as a “storm in a teacup”.

Commenting on Mrs May’s latest defeat, Jeremy Corbyn said: “Two weeks ago, the prime minister told Parliament that her new approach could ‘secure a substantial and sustainable majority’ in Parliament.

“However, tonight’s vote has proved that there is no majority for the prime minister’s course of action.

“This can’t go on. The government can’t keep ignoring Parliament or ploughing on towards 29 March without a coherent plan.”

He added that the PM needed to admit her strategy had failed “and come back with a proposal that can truly command majority support in Parliament”.

Mrs May has promised MPs a final, decisive vote on her Brexit deal with the EU when she has secured the changes to it that she believes MPs want to see.

She believes she can secure a Commons majority for the deal if she can get legally-binding changes to the backstop clause – something the EU has consistently ruled out.

A Labour amendment calling for the final, meaningful vote to be held before 27 February was earlier defeated by 16 votes.

An SNP amendment, which was also backed by the Liberal Democrats, calling for Britain’s departure from the EU on 29 March to be delayed by three months, was defeated by 93 votes to 315, after most Labour MPs abstained.