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Trump Signs Executive Order To Halt Family Separations

By: Andrew Restuccia, Lorraine Woellert of politico

President Donald Trump signed an executive action Wednesday that ends the administration’s policy of separating migrant families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, abandoning the president’s previous stance that only Congress can fix the problem.

“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” the president told reporters in the Oval Office, flanked by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence. “I think anybody with a heart would feel strongly about it. We don’t like to see families separated.”

Yet Trump said that he wanted to continue enforcing a strong policy at the border, an issue he campaigned on: “We are keeping a very powerful border and it continues to be a zero tolerance. We have zero tolerance for people that enter our country illegally.”

The action came after Trump and his team faced harsh criticism from lawmakers, activists, religious leaders and former first ladies over the separation of children from their parents in custody, which was panned almost universally as cruel and damaging to the kids’ well-being.

It was a remarkable shift from a president who is typically reluctant to bow to outside pressure. He often doubles down on his existing stance when confronted with criticism.

With cable news flashing images of migrant children held in cages and lawmakers’ offices facing a flood of angry phone calls, the president was under increased pressure to come up with a speedy solution. White House aides came to the conclusion on Wednesday that Congress was unlikely to act quickly to resolve the crisis, even though they sent signals that Trump would be willing to sign a narrow, stand-alone fix without other immigration-related provisions.

The decision to end the separation policy via executive action appeared to have happened quickly, and some in the White House were left in the dark. Key members of the White House legislative affairs team, which had been working with Hill lawmakers in a bid to find a legislative fix, were left out of the loop and hadn’t seen text of the executive action as of early Wednesday afternoon, according to two people familiar with the issue.

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North Korea and US Leaders Meet Face To Face

By : Everett Rosenfield & Nyshka Chandran

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met face-to-face Tuesday morning for their highly anticipated summit. After hours of talks, the U.S. president said he was heading toward “a signing” with Kim, but there was no immediate indication of what sort of agreement would be signed.

The summit began with the two men briefly shaking hands and taking a photo side-by-side, then moving to another room, where they sat and made brief statements for the press.

“We’re going to have a great discussion and, I think, tremendous success. It will be tremendously successful. And it’s my honor,” Trump said.

“We will have a terrific relationship — I have no doubt,” the president added.

For his part, the North Korean leader said, “It was not easy to get here. The past worked as fetters on our limbs, and the old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward. But we overcame all of them, and we are here today,” according to a translation provided by the White House.

Trump responded: “That’s true.”

Following those comments, the two leaders began what was said to be a one-on-one meeting, with only translators in attendance.

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NASA Makes Organic Material On Mars

By: NASA

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet’s surface and subsurface.

The new findings – “tough” organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere – appear in the June 8 edition of the journal Science.

Organic molecules contain carbon and hydrogen, and also may include oxygen, nitrogen and other elements. While commonly associated with life, organic molecules also can be created by non-biological processes and are not necessarily indicators of life.

“With these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and keep searching for evidence of life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in Washington. “I’m confident that our ongoing and planned missions will unlock even more breathtaking discoveries on the Red Planet.”

“Curiosity has not determined the source of the organic molecules,” said Jen Eigenbrode of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who is lead author of one of the two new Science papers. “Whether it holds a record of ancient life, was food for life, or has existed in the absence of life, organic matter in Martian materials holds chemical clues to planetary conditions and processes.”

Although the surface of Mars is inhospitable today, there is clear evidence that in the distant past, the Martian climate allowed liquid water – an essential ingredient for life as we know it – to pool at the surface. Data from Curiosity reveal that billions of years ago, a water lake inside Gale Crater held all the ingredients necessary for life, including chemical building blocks and energy sources.

“The Martian surface is exposed to radiation from space. Both radiation and harsh chemicals break down organic matter,” said Eigenbrode. “Finding ancient organic molecules in the top five centimeters of rock that was deposited when Mars may have been habitable, bodes well for us to learn the story of organic molecules on Mars with future missions that will drill deeper.”

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Aaron Persky, Judge Who Gave Lenient Sentence On Turner Rape Case, is Recalled From Office

By: Christal Hayes of USA Today

The controversial judge who sparked outrage after offering a lenient sentence to Brock Turner, a former Stanford University swimmer convicted of sexual assault, was recalled from office Wednesday — becoming the first California jurist recalled from the bench in 86 years.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, 56, became the target of a recall after sentencing Turner, who could have faced 14 years in prison, to only six months behind bars.

While the now-famous 2016 sentencing hearing happened before the #MeToo movement took hold over the country, ballots cast Tuesday were made in the backdrop of the movement, which has emboldened sexual assault survivors and forced criminal investigations and oustings of powerful men, most notably with Harvey Weinstein.

Persky’s supporters contend Turner’s sentence was lawful — and the recommended sentence from probation officials. But those calling for the recall say this is just one of many sentences handed down from Persky that were far too light.

Two women are running on the ballot to succeed Persky: civil attorney Angela Storey and prosecutor Cindy Hendrickson.

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Takeaways From California’s Primary Elections

By: The New York Times

The battle for control of Congress was front and center on Tuesday night, with races taking shape in several intensely contested House seats in California and New Jersey. But there were revealing elections in the Midwest and the South, too, underscoring President Trump’s power in the Republican Party and the different ways Democrats hope to loosen his hold on red-state America.

Here are some of our takeaways:

Money matters in California

National Democrats spent over $7 million in an effort to ensure they had a candidate reach the general election in three House districts in California held by Republicans. Their decision to not take their chances in the state’s “top two” system — in which the top finishers in nonpartisan, open primaries face each other in November — appears to have been a wise investment.

The party’s intervention in the districts held by Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Ed Royce and Darrell Issa, all Republicans, paid off: they angered some of their own activists but were virtually certain to advance candidates in each of the three districts, including their preferred picks against Mr. Rohrabacher and in Mr. Royce’s seat.

And the Democrats also got a bit of a lesson about the risks of not intervening, in the race for the seat held by Representative Jeff Denham. The Democrat Josh Harder got little outside help and appeared poised to barely edge out a little-known Republican challenger because the other five Democrats split more than 30 percent of the vote.

It did not come cheap, but if Democrats secure a narrow House majority in November they will have done so in part because they decided to aggressively compete in June.

Trump voters can have long memories

Representative Martha Roby, Republican of Alabama, talked about building the wall. She voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. She backed the president’s tax bill.

And yet.

Less than two years after saying she could not support Mr. Trump in the presidential campaign, Ms. Roby appeared to pay a political price on Tuesday, failing to clear the threshold — half of the vote — necessary to avoid a runoff for her seat.

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States Take Net Neutrality Into Their Own Hands

By: Harper Neidig of The Hill

States are pushing their own net neutrality laws and rules in defiance of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) repeal, heightening the possibility that supporters will be waging another legal battle over the popular Obama-era regulations.

Washington and Oregon have already passed their own laws to fill the void left by the FCC’s repeal, and California appears to be close behind after the state Senate passed a net neutrality bill on Wednesday.

A total of 29 states have proposed their own open internet legislation, according to Gigi Sohn, a fellow at Georgetown Law who’s been tracking the initiatives.

And five Democratic governors have gone with another tactic: issuing executive orders that prohibit the state from doing business with any broadband company that violates the principles of net neutrality.

The FCC’s repeal order included a provision preempting states from creating their own net neutrality rules, and this movement could lay the groundwork for a court battle over states’ rights to implement their own consumer protections.

A potential industry lawsuit against the states that have passed net neutrality laws could hold some promise for net neutrality supporters, says Marc Martin, a communications and technology lawyer at Perkins Coie.

“It’s not a slam dunk” despite the preemption clause, Martin said. “It’ll be interesting, I think that is one of the more vulnerable parts of the repeal overall.”

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Manafort Tried Tampering With Witnesses On His Case

By: Reuters

President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who has been indicted by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, attempted to tamper with potential witnesses, Mueller said in a court filing on Monday.

Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, asked the judge overseeing the case in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to revoke or revise an order releasing Manafort ahead of his trial.

Manafort was released to home confinement after his arraignment in October.

Mueller has indicted Manafort in federal courts in Virginia and Washington, D.C., with an array of allegations from money-laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent, to bank and tax fraud. Manafort has pleaded not guilty.

FBI Special Agent Brock Domin, in a declaration filed with Mueller’s motion, said Manafort had attempted to call, text and send encrypted messages in February to two people from “The Hapsburg Group,” a firm he worked with to promote the interests of Ukraine.

The FBI has documents and statements from the two people, as well as telephone records and documents recovered through a search of Manafort’s iCloud account showing that Trump’s former campaign manager attempted communication while he was out on bail, according to Domin.

The communications were “in an effort to influence their testimony and to otherwise conceal evidence,” Domin wrote. “The investigation into this matter is ongoing.”

Manafort is the most senior member of Trump’s campaign to be indicted, though the charges do not relate to campaign activities.

Mueller urged Judge Amy Berman Jackson to “promptly” schedule a hearing on the whether to change Manafort’s conditions of release, which could result in Manafort going to jail.

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Democrats Demand Investigation On Trump Chinese Loan

By: Jessica Kwong of Newsweek

More than 60 House Democrats are calling for an ethics investigation over the “extremely short time frame” between a $500 million loan the Chinese government made to an Indonesian theme park with Trump Organization properties, and President Donald Trump’s move to save the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE.

In a letter addressed to U.S. Office of Government Ethics Acting Director David Apol, tweeted by U.S. Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island on Sunday, Democrats pointed out that Trump had his administration save ZTE from financial collapse three days after reports of the Chinese government’s massive loan to the theme park that will include a Trump-branded hotel and golf course, residences and shops.

“We believe that these events raise several potential constitutional and ethical violations,” the letter stated. “First, the Chinese governments loan may invoke the Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution, which prohibits officials holding an ‘office of profit or trust’ from accepting payment or gifts from a foreign government without the consent from Congress.”

Trump has refused to divest from his business interests, handing day-to-day operations of the Trump Organization to his two eldest sons but maintaining a revocable trust that he can draw funds from anytime.

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Trump Cancels Major Meeting

By: Mike Calia of CNBC

President Donald Trump canceled his historic nuclear summit with Kim Jong Un on Thursday, accusing North Korea of “tremendous anger and open hostility.”

The meeting, which would have marked the first face-to-face encounter between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader, was set for June 12 in Singapore.

“Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote in a letter to Kim, which was released Thursday morning.

Stocks fell and gold rose after news of the cancellation broke.

Much of the letter was written in seemingly friendly terms, including praise for North Korea’s recent release of three American prisoners. In contrast, Trump also appeared to issue a threat that conjured memories of his war of words with Kim last year.

“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” Trump wrote.

The cancellation appeared to take South Korea’s government by surprise. The nation’s president, Moon Jae-in, had played a pivotal role in setting up recent diplomatic developments.

A representative of Moon’s office said the South Korean administration was “trying to figure out what President Trump’s intention is and the exact meaning of it,” according to the country’s Yonhap News Agency. Moon and his aides convened emergency meetings to address the shock announcement, which broke shortly before midnight in Seoul.

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Sleeping In On The Weekend Could Save Your Life

By: Nicola Davis of The Guardian

Many people complain they do not get enough sleep, and it seems they are right to be concerned. Researchers have found that adults under the age of 65 who get five or fewer hours of sleep for seven days a week have a higher risk of death than those who consistently get six or seven hours’ shut-eye.

However the effect of short sleeps over a few days may be countered by a later lie-in. The research found that individuals who managed just a few hours’ sleep each day during the week but then had a long snooze at weekends had no raised mortality risk, compared with those who consistently stuck to six or seven hours a night.

“Sleep duration is important for longevity,” said Torbjörn Åkerstedt, first author of the study, at the Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, and Karolinska Institute, also in the Swedish capital.

The study, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, is based on data from more than 38,000 adults, collected during a lifestyle and medical survey conducted throughout Sweden in 1997. The fate of participants was followed for up to 13 years, using a national death register.

Åkerstedt said researchers had previously looked at links between sleep duration and mortality but had focused on sleep during the working week. “I suspected there might be some modification if you included also weekend sleep, or day-off sleep.”

Once factors such as gender, body mass index, smoking, physical activity and shift work, were taken into account, the results revealed that those under the age of 65 who got five hours of sleep or under that amount seven days a week had a 65% higher mortality rate than those getting six or seven hours’ sleep every day. But there was no increased risk of death for those who slept five or fewer hours during the week but then managed eight or more hours’ sleep on weekend days.

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