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Winter Olympics 2018: Pita Taufatofua is back, oiled and carrying the Tongan flag

Pita Taufatofua, the oiled-up Tongan athlete who became a Rio Summer Olympics sensation with fans, is back in an Olympics opening ceremony.

Taufatofua, Tonga’s only Winter Olympics athlete, carried the country’s flag, bare-chested, wearing his country’s traditional mat called a ta’ovala.

>> More Olympics coverage at WPXI.com

While it was similar to the costume worn in the Summer Olympics in 2016, the difference in Friday’s ceremony was the conditions. Taufatofua carried the flag shirtless, in flip-flops, in about 25 degree weather. That’s before the wind chill.

In Rio’s Summer Games, Taufatofua competed in tae kwon do, but lost in his first match. In the Pyeongchang Olympics, he’s a cross-country skier.

While the temperature was below freezing, Taufatofua did receive a warm welcome, especially on social media where comments went something like this:

 

Winter Olympics 2018: Who is Kim Yo Jong? 8 things to know about Kim Jong Un’s sister  

The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – Kim Yo Jong – will visit South Korea on Friday as the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games begin. 

The rarely seen member of North Korea’s ruling family is expected to stay in South Korea for three days, attending the Olympics. She is set to have lunch with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. 

>> More Olympics coverage at WPXI.com

Not much is known about Kim Yo Jong, but here’s what we do know:

  1. She is the is the youngest child and only daughter of Kim Jong Il and Ko Yong Hui. She is believed to have been born Sept. 26, 1989. She has two brothers.
  2. She is the first member of the ruling Kim family to go to South Korea.
  3. She attended school in Switzerland, as did Kim Jong Un and her older brother, Kim Jong Chol.
  4. Her first appearance in public after completing school in Switzerland was at her father’s funeral in 2011.
  5. Her official title is deputy director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Her job is to promote her brother’s initiatives and protect his image.
  6. She is a mother.
  7. She was reportedly married in 2014 or 2015.
  8. She was placed on the U.S. Treasury's specially designated nationals list in January 2017 because of human rights abuses.

Sources: The Associated Press; The Washington Post; The Korea Times; Wikipedia

Who is Hope Hicks? 13 things to know about the White House communications director

Rob Porter, a top White House aide, resigned Wednesday amid allegations of domestic abuse.

The allegations against Porter were known to the White House as early as last November, CBS reported, but Porter was allowed to work in his position without a full security clearance, according to the story.

CNN reported that White House communications director Hope Hicks helped Porter craft his public statement of resignation, in which he denied the charges and spoke of his service to the administration. CNN did not name the sources of its reporting of Hicks’ involvement.

"My commitment to public service speaks for itself," Porter, said in the statement. "I have always put duty to country first and treated others with respect. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have served in the Trump administration and will seek to ensure a smooth transition when I leave the White House."

>> Read more trending news

Hicks, who has been with Trump since he began his campaign for the White House, is reported to be dating Porter.

Hicks, according to The Washington Post, has been interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors about any involvement in the investigation into possible Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election.

The New York Times reported that Hicks spoke to Mueller’s prosecutors, in part, after she told former Trump legal team spokesman Mark Corallo that emails relating to a June 2016 meeting set up by Donald Trump Jr. to gather dirt on Hillary Clinton would “never get out.” 

According to the Post, Hicks was one of several aides who suggested while on Air Force One on the way back to Washington from a trip overseas that Trump be more transparent about the meeting he eldest son conducted.

Who is Hope Hicks and how did she get where she is at the age of 29? 

Here are 13 things to know about her

  1. She was named interim White House communications director on Aug. 16, after Anthony Scaramucci left the job. She was appointed permanent White House communications director on Sept. 12, and 28 at the time, she is the youngest White House communications director in history.
  2. Her parents met in Washington. She grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut.
  3. She, along with her sister, Mary Grace, worked as a model. Among other jobs, she worked for Ralph Lauren at age 11, and appeared on the cover of the novel series “Hourglass Adventures.”
  4. Her father and grandfather worked in public relations. Paul Hicks, her grandfather, headed up public relations for Texaco. Her father was the chief executive officer of the Americas for Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and was in charge of public affairs for the NFL. He is managing director of the Glover Park Group
  5. She went to college at Southern Methodist University. She was on the lacrosse team.
  6. When she graduated from SMU she began work in public relations in New York City. Her second job was at the Hiltzik Strategies public relations firm.
  7. Ivanka Trump was a client of Hiltzik Strategies. Hicks met Ivanka Trump through the firm and eventually went to work for her handling public relations for her fashion line. 
  8. When Donald Trump decided to run for president he made her head of communications for the campaign.
  9. During the campaign, she transcribed Trump’s tweets. He dictated them aloud, according to New York magazine.
  10. She is well-liked and trusted by Trump. Trump said in an interview with The New York Times that Hicks, “will often give advice, and she’ll do it in a very low-key manner, so it doesn’t necessarily come in the form of advice. But it’s delivered very nicely.”
  11. On Dec. 22, 2016, Trump announced she would be the White House director of strategic communications. 
  12. Hicks made the January 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list. 
  13. She is paid $179,700 – the maximum salary for a White House staffer.

The Winter Olympics 2018: Five things to watch for during the games

In a couple of days, the 2018 Winter Olympics will get underway. Years of planning, building and qualifying -- along with some international intrigue when it comes to who will be competing -- will all come together in a pageant of national pride in a stadium in the northern part of South Korea.

What can you expect from this year’s games? Here are a few things to look for as you watch the 2018 Winter Olympics.

1. It’s going to be cold: Pyeongchang is in the northeast corner of South Korea. The opening ceremonies are scheduled for 8 p.m. local time (6 a.m. Eastern) Friday and will likely see a temperature of between 15-20 degrees F. February is the city’s coldest and driest month. American athletes will have battery-heated parkas for the ceremony.

2. Something new: You’ll see some new events in these Winter Olympic Games. Look for big-air snowboarding, the Alpine team competition, a mixed-gender slalom, mixed doubles curling, and mass-start speedskating.

3. The two Koreas: Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, has allowed athletes from his country to cross the Demilitarized Zone and enter South Korea to participate in the games. He is also sending his sister to represent the country. Athletes from North and South Korea will march under the Korean Unification flag during the Opening Ceremony. There will also be a Korean women’s hockey team made up of members from both countries.

4. North Korea will be there, but what about Russia: Russia was banned from competition in this Winter Olympics because of issues of doping. However, 169 athletes from Russia will compete as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” They will march in the Opening Ceremony under the Olympic flag, and the Olympic anthem will be played, should they win medals.

5. Hey, who is the new guy: There are six nations making their Winter Olympics debut this year. Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore are all participating in their first Winter Games.

>> Read more trending news

Some numbers:

$900 million: The amount generated in national ad sales for the Pyeongchang Games. $19.6 million: The amount spent on cybersecurity and X-ray screening for the games. $13 billion: The estimated cost of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. $4,683: The average price of a weeklong trip to Pyeongchang for the Olympics. 242: The number of athletes on the U.S. team; it’s a record. 45: The age of German speedskater Claudia Pechstein. She will be the first woman to compete in seven Winter Olympic Games. 39: The age of Team USA Hockey player Brian Gionta. 17: The age of Vincent Zhou, the youngest U.S. Olympian. 14: Number of hours Pyeongchang is ahead of the U.S. Eastern time zone.

Here’s a refresher on how to watch the games.

When do the Olympics begin? 

The first events, ski jumping and curling, are scheduled for Thursday. The Opening Ceremony takes place on Friday. The games end on Feb. 25, when the Closing Ceremony will be held.

How you can watch the Opening Ceremony The Opening Ceremony begins at 8 p.m. local time in South Korea – that’s 6 a.m. ET. If you want to see the ceremony live, you can catch it on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. Those services are available on streaming devices, including Amazon Fire, Apple TV and Roku. NBC will broadcast an edited version of the ceremony at 8 p.m. ET. Katie Couric and Mike Tirico will host the Opening Ceremony. 

National Pizza Day 2018: Deals to save you dough on pizza

The most favorite topping is cheese, around 30 percent of Americans surveyed eat it at least once a week and almost a quarter of us say we can down a whole pizza all by ourselves. 

Pizza is an American staple, and lucky for all of us, Friday is National Pizza Day.

Several restaurants are offering deals on pies large and small. Below are some deals on pizza, most of them good through Friday.

Remember, some restaurants do not participate in chain deals and discounts. Check with your local restaurant to make sure it honors coupons and discounts.

Baskin-Robbins – Get free samples of the new Sweetheart Polar Pizza Ice Cream Treat from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. on Friday. See the details here

California Pizza Kitchen – Try the new cauliflower crust for no additional charge through Friday.

Chuck E. Cheese’s – Chuck E. Cheese’s offers these coupons for deals like $2 off any large pizza, and more.

Blaze Pizza – Get a code by entering your email here for a buy one, get one free pizza deal. 

Domino’s – Buy two or more items from a select menu and get them for $5.99 each; you can also get a medium, two-topping handmade pan pizza for $8.99, or a large three-topping pizza when ordering carryout for $7.99.

Hungry Howie’s – Check out deals at locations near you by clicking here. You can get a small, two-topping pizza for $5, a large, one-topping deep dish for $10, two medium one-topping pizzas and an order of Howie bread or a 2-liter of soda for $15.

Godfather’s Pizza – Along with other discounts, you can get a medium, one-topping pizza for $3.99 with the purchase of a large specialty pizza at participating locations.

Little Caesars – Get extra pepperoni and cheese for $1 when you upgrade to Little Caesars EXTRAMOSTBESTTEST at participating stores. 

Papa John’s – Among other deals, get 25 percent off when you create your own deal with regular-priced menu items.

Papa Murphy’s – Get $2 off any large pizza or $3 off any family-size pizza.

Pilot Flying J – Beginning Thursday, get a free slice of pizza on Friday when you download the myPilot app.

Pizza Hut – Among other deals, get two medium, two-topping pizzas for $5.99.

Pizza Patrón – Get any large specialty pizza for $5.99 on Friday.

Vote could come today on Democrats’ memo; what time, what is in it?

Update 6:39 p.m.: The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously to release the memo to the public.

Original story: A vote is expected by the House Intelligence Committee Monday afternoon on whether to release a memo prepared by Democrats in response to a Republican-authored memorandum released last week that charged misconduct by the FBI and Justice Department.The memo, compiled by Republican staffers on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, charged that the FBI and DOJ did not provide complete information when requesting a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant to surveil Carter Page, a one-time member of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

>> Read more trending stories

The problem with the approval of the application, the memo alleges, is that FBI and DOJ officials did not explain to a FISC judge that they were seeking to expand a warrant to surveil Page based on information collected in a dossier compiled by investigator Christopher Steele. That dossier was financed in part by the Democratic National Committee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

>>House Intelligence Committee votes to release Democrats’ rebuttal to Nunes memo

Democrats have said the memo prepared under the direction of the ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, (Calif.), refutes the claims made by the GOP, showing how the allegations were taken out of context.

A vote on whether to release the memo could be taken by the House Intelligence Committee, led by Rep. Devin Nunes, (R-Calif.), at 5 p.m. ET., Monday. 

If the memo is released, it would have to follow the same process as Nunes’ memo did – first, voted out of committee, then sent to the president for declassification, checked by intelligence officials to make sure no classified information is being compromised, then released to the public.

The president would have five days to decide if he wants to declassify the memo.

On Monday, Trump took a swipe at Schiff via Twitter. Trump called Schiff, “one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington.”

Schiff answered the president about an hour later saying, “Instead of tweeting false smears, the American people would appreciate it if you turned off the TV and helped solve the funding crisis, protected Dreamers or...really anything else.”

Both the Justice Department and the FBI have denied any wrongdoing concerning surveillance warrants. 

 

Bon-Ton announces bankruptcy; closing 47 stores

Bon-Ton Stores has announced it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The company, parent company to such stores as Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Boston Store and Younkers announced recently it would close 47 of its 260 department stores.

Bon-Ton operates stores in 24 states, mainly in the Northeast and Midwest.

"We are currently engaged in discussions with potential investors and our debt holders on a financial restructuring plan, and the actions we are taking are intended to give us additional time and financial flexibility," CEO Bill Tracy said in a prepared statement released Sunday.

Bon-Ton received a commitment of $725 million in debtor-in-possession financing to operate during its restructuring process.According to court filings, Bon-Ton says it will keep stores open by selling the entire company.

"The actions we are taking are intended to give us additional time and financial flexibility to evaluate options for our business," Bon-Ton CEO Bill Tracy said in a statement. 

Bon-Ton joins many major retailers in reorganizing their businesses as they fight the rise of online shopping.

Following is the full list of the stores set for closure. The closures began on Feb. 1.

Herberger's, 4235 Yellowstone Ave, Chubbuck, IdahoCarson's Clearance Center, 970 North Lake Street, Aurora, Ill.Carson's, 120 South Riverside Plaza, Chicago Carson's, 2917 N. Vermillion, Danville, Ill.Carson's, 2550 Sycamore Rd., DeKalb, Ill.Carson's Clearance Center, 7234 Dempster St., Morton Grove, Ill.Bergner's, Peoria, Ill. (not specified)Carson's, 601 North Martingale Road, Schaumburg, Ill.Carson's, 2101 State Road 109, Anderson, Ind.Carson's, 2104 25th St., Columbus, Ind.Carson's, 3701 S. Main, Elkhart, Ind.Carson's, One W. Washington St. , Indianapolis Carson's, 1129 N. Baldwin, Marion, Ind.Younkers, 6301 University Avenue, Cedar Falls, IowaYounkers, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (not specified)Elder-Beerman, 5105 Hinkleville Rd. #500, Paducah, Ky.Elder-Beerman, 1357 S. Main St., Adrian, Mich.Carson's, 1800 Pipestone Rd. Benton Harbor, Mich.Herberger's Clearance Center, 1717 Beam Ave, Maplewood, Minn.Bon-Ton, 270 Loudon Rd., Concord, N.H.Bon-Ton, 1200 Highway 22 E., Phillipsburg, N.J.Bon-Ton, 578 Aviation Rd., Queensbury, N.Y.Bon-Ton, 21073 Salmon Run Mall, Watertown, N.Y.Elder-Beerman, 1500 N. Clinton St. , Defiance, OhioBon-Ton, 750 E. High St., Carlisle, PennsylvaniaBon-Ton, 300 Commons Dr, Dubois, PennsylvaniaBon-Ton, 810 Mill Creek Mall Road, Erie, PennsylvaniaBon-Ton, 550 Galleria Dr. , Johnstown, PennsylvaniaBon-Ton, 3 Susquehanna Valley Mall, Selinsgrove, PennsylvaniaBon-Ton, 2901 E. College Ave, State College, PennsylvaniaBon-Ton, Rte. 611 & Bridge St., Stroudsburg, PennsylvaniaBon-Ton, 6900 Hamilton Blvd., Trexlertown, PennsylvaniaHerberger's, 1300 N. Main Street Ste. 100, Logan, UtahYounkers, 4301 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Appleton, WisconsinBoston Store, 1645 North Spring Street, Beaver Dam, WisconsinElder-Beerman, 100 Beloit Mall, Beloit, WisconsinYounkers, 755 West Johnson Street, Fond Du Lac, WisconsinYounkers, 700 E Magnolia Avenue, Manitowoc, WisconsinYounkers, 2600 Roosevelt Road, Marinette, WisconsinBoston Store Clearance Center, 5659 S 27th St, Milwaukee Younkers, 69 N 28th St. E, Superior, WisconsinYounkers, 300 Forest Street, Wausau, WisconsinBon-Ton, Hagerstown, Md.Younkers, Marquette, Mich.Bon-Ton, Massena, N.Y.Bon-Ton, South Burlington, Vt.Elder-Beerman, Vienna, W.Va.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Who is Carter Page; how is he connected to the Nunes memo?

A House committee memo released Friday has accused the FBI and Justice Department of misleading a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge so they could extend an eavesdropping warrant against a Trump presidential campaign adviser.

The memo accuses the agencies of basing the warrant request to surveil Carter Page on a disputed dossier, compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and partly financed by the Democratic National Committee, that alleges contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia officials.

Prior to the Steele Dossier, Page was the subject of a FISA warrant in 2014. In 2013, Russian intelligence  officials tried to recruit Page as a spy. 

Democrats on the Select House Committee on Intelligence had strongly opposed the release of the memo and drafted a memo in response to the GOP version. The FBI, as well, warned against the memo’s release.

Trump signed a request to declassify the memo and it was released shortly afterward on Friday.

Who is Carter Page and how is he connected to the memo and the Russia investigation.

  • Page was born in Minneapolis, Minn., in 1971, but grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York. He graduated from Poughkeepsie's Our Lady of Lourdes High School. He enrolled in the U.S. Naval Academy, where he was in the top 10 percent of his class. There, he was chosen to be in the Navy’s Trident Scholar program. The program allows for officers to conduct independent academic research. Through the program, Page worked as a researcher for the House Armed Services Committee.
  • He served five years in the Navy, a portion of it as an intelligence officer for a United Nations peacekeeping mission. He also received a master’s degree in national securities studies at Georgetown University.
  • After Page left the Navy, he earned a second master’s degree from New York University, completed a fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations and began work as an investment banker with Merrill Lynch in the company’s London office. He was named vice president of the company’s Moscow office and spent three years there. He was chief operating officer of the firm’s engery and power department back in New York City.
  • In 2008, Page, along with James Richard and Sergei Yatsenko, an executive with Gazprom, a Russian natural gas company, founded an investment fund called Global Energy Capital.
  • Page has publicly praised the Russian government. He was quoted as saying he felt Russian President Vladimir Putin was a far better leader than former U.S. President Barack Obama.

How is he connected to the Trump campaign?

Page was named as a foreign policy adviser to Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. He did not stay with the campaign long, only from March to September, as his ties to Russian business and political officials became known.

He was an “unpaid adviser,” according to Page and the Trump campaign.

How does he figure in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election?

Page testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Nov. 2 without a lawyer present. According to testimony released by the committee, Page said:

  • He traveled to Moscow in July 2016 to give a speech, and while he was there he met with a low-level official of the Russian government. Several of Trump’s campaign officials knew he was going. Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told Page he could go in a personal capacity, not as a campaign representative.
  • Jeff Sessions knew of his trip. Sessions has testified that he was not aware of it.
  • He told Trump campaign members after the trip that there was strong support for Trump from Russian officials.
  • He was asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement in March 2016.
  • The campaign’s national security committee met several times. The White House has said it met only once.
  • He said he has never spoken to or had any communication with Trump. Trump has said he doesn’t believe he has ever met Page.
  • He invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when he was asked about documents he had failed to turn over to the committee. 

Page was asked by the Senate Intelligence Committee to provide records of Russian contacts he has had in the past seven years.

Page testified that he was monitored by the FBI. through a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant. According to The Washington Post, Page was the subject of a 2016 FISA warrant.

Sources: Wikipedia; The Associated Press; The Washington Post; The New York Tiimes; Fox News;

Read the GOP memo accusing the FBI of misconduct

Here is the memo released Friday from the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

>>Nunes memo: Controversial GOP memo alleging missteps in Russia probe released

Winter Olympics 2018: When does it start, what is the schedule, how do I watch?

Athletes from around the world are making their way to South Korea ahead of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, set to begin in a week. The Games, to be held in Pyeongchang, begin on Feb. 9. Closing Ceremony is on Feb. 25. This year, in addition to skiing and skating luging, four new events have been added to the Games – mixed-doubles curling, big air snowboarding, mass start speed skating and team skiing. There is, literally, thousands of hours of event programming and multiple ways to watch the Games. Here’s your guide to the Games. Where is Pyeongchang? Pyeongchang is about 79 miles east of the South Korean capital city of Seoul. Or about 7,104 miles from Atlanta, Georgia. When do the Olympics begin? The first events, ski jumping and curling, are scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 8. The Opening Ceremony takes place on Friday, Feb. 9. The Games end on Feb. 25 when the Closing Ceremony will be held. How you can watch the Opening Ceremony The Opening Ceremony begins at 8 p.m. local time in South Korea – that’s 6 a.m. EST. If you want to see the ceremony live, you can catch it on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. Those services are available on streaming devices, including Amazon Fire, Apple TV and Roku. NBC will broadcast an edited version of the ceremony at 8 p.m. EST. Katie Couric and Mike Tirico will host the Opening Ceremony for 

How do I watch everything else? The Games will be broadcast on NBC and their networks -- USA, CNBC, and NBCOlympics. They have put together a calendar to help you keep up with all the events you may be interested in watching. The events listed will be tape-delayed, so stay away from news channels and social media if you don’t want to know in advance who won. NBC will also host a livestream coverage of the events on their website and on the NBC Sports app. The NBC apps require you to use your cable login. If you do not have cable or satellite service, you can use streaming services such as Hulu with Live TVPlayStation Vue or SlingTV's Blue package. What time is it in South Korea? Korea Standard Time is 14 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. So, when it is 11 a.m. on Thursday in the Eastern time zone, it’s 1 a.m. on Friday in Korea. How many are on Team USA for the Games? The U.S. Olympic Team will be made up of 240 athletes. Is there a mascot this year?  The mascot for the 2018 Games is a white tiger named Soohorang. “Sooho” means protection in Korean and “rang,” from the word Ho-rang-I, means tiger.

What about the weather?

It’s going to be cold. Very cold. The temperature for the Opening Ceremony is expected to be around 7 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill. 

How will spectators and athletes keep warm?

Organizers plan to provide spectators with heating pads and blankets. Team USA will have special uniforms that help keep them warm. 

What is a FISA warrant?

Here’s a look at the FISA Court and FISA warrants.

What is the FISA Court?

A warrant to wiretap someone suspected of spying with or for a foreign government is issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court -- or FISA Court. The court is actually a tribunal whose actions are carried out in secret. The tribunal has the authority to grant warrants for electronic surveillance. The court has 11 members, all federal judges. The judges serve seven-year terms. The chief justice of the U.S. Supreme court selects the judges.

When was this court established?

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 created the court and set up the rules for wiretapping of suspected spies.  

>>Read More: 10 takeaways from the hearing on election meddling by Russia

What is its mission?

The court was set up to either approve or deny warrants requested by the United States government for surveillance of foreign spies inside of the United States. That warrant requests and the intelligence gathering is generally done by federal law enforcement agencies or U.S. intelligence agencies. The authorization allows for wiretapping a "foreign power or an agent of a foreign power" (which could include American citizens) suspected to be engaged in espionage or terrorism. Methods used in an investigation include electronic surveillance, physical searches and other actions. Generally, the attorney general signs the warrant requests.

How does it work?

When an agency requests a warrant from the FISA Court, the request falls to one of the 11 judges who sit on the court. It is up to that judge to either deny or approve the request for a surveillance warrant. If the request is denied, there is an avenue for appeal of the ruling, but that has happened only a handful of times in the history of the court.

Is there any other way to get surveillance warrant?

An alternate way a warrant for surveillance can be obtained is if the U.S. attorney general declares an emergency and authorizes the employment of the surveillance. The attorney general must notify a judge on the FISA Court, and must, within seven days, apply for a warrant for the action.

What rules must they follow?

While the proceedings are secret, there are rules that have to be followed. The statute that created FISA Courts bars targeted electronic surveillance in the United States unless there is evidence that a foreign power or agent of a foreign power is involved. Also, there has to be evidence that the facility -- an email address or phone number, for instance -- is being used by the foreign power or agent. In addition, the government must show that the information to be collected is "relevant" to any investigation of foreign espionage or terrorism.

The warrants are generally issued for up to 12 months, and they authorize the government to collect “bulk information.” That means that while Americans on U.S. soil who are not agents of a foreign government are not targeted, information collected could include communication between U.S. citizens.

Can public see these warrants, they can see others?

The court’s dealings are secret, the hearings closed to the public. Records are made and kept, but those records are generally not made available to the public.

How many have been turned down?

As of 2013, the FISA court has denied only 12 warrants since its inception. It has granted more than 34,000 requests since its inception.

What is a ‘Right to Try’ bill?

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Donald Trump called for Congress to pass a “Right to Try” bill. 

“People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure — I want to give them a chance right here at home. It is time for the Congress to give these wonderful Americans the 'Right to Try,'” Trump said. 

The legislation would allow terminally ill Americans to try medicines that have passed Phase 1 of the Food and Drug Administration approval process. Phase 1 clinical trials usually include 20-100 “healthy volunteers or people with the disease/condition,” the FDA says. The purpose of the phase is to identify the safety of the drug and what dosage is best. Around 70 percent of drugs in Phase 1 move on to the next phase. Drugs in Phase 1 are not yet available through prescriptions from doctors. 

What is a Right to Try bill? Here’s a look at the legislation the president called for Tuesday. 

What are Right to Try laws? 

Right to Try laws allow terminally ill patients to have access to drugs and/or therapies that have not been fully approved by the FDA. The Right to Try laws are state laws. Trump called for a federal Right to Try law. Thirty-eight states have passed Right to Try laws. 

Which states have Right to Try laws? 

The states that have passed Right to Try laws are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington and Wyoming. 

What happens if you live in a Right to Try state and have a terminal disease? 

According to righttotry.org, “You and your doctor should discuss best treatment options for your condition. If those options include a qualifying investigational drug your doctor believes is your best hope, he/she can initiate contact with that drug manufacturer’s compassionate use program director to discuss your options for access.” 

Righttotry.com offers a sample letter to be sent to drug manufacturers.  

Right to Try by the numbers Fewer than 3 percent of terminally ill patients gain access to investigational treatments through clinical trials. Compassionate use exceptions are only granted to about 1,200 patients a year.  

Who would be eligible for “Right to Try”? (From righttotry.org)

  • The patient has a terminal disease and has exhausted all conventional treatment options;
  • The patient’s doctor has advised the use of an investigational medication;
  • The medication has successfully completed basic safety testing and is part of the FDA’s ongoing approval process;
  • The patient has provided “informed consent” acknowledging the potential risk of the drug; and
  • The company developing the medication is willing to make it available to the patient.
  • Right to Try includes important protections. The basic safety testing and informed consent requirements protect the patient. And doctors and the manufacturer are protected from liability if the investigational medication doesn’t work. But this is not protection from medical malpractice.

If there are state laws, why did the president ask for a federal one? 

According to righttotry.org, "FDA regulations cannot preempt state laws that preserve constitutionally protected rights, such as the fundamental right to life and medical self-preservation. The U.S. Supreme Court has never addressed Right to Try specifically, but it has held that states have great latitude in regulating health and safety, including medical standards, which are primarily and historically a matter of local concern." 

Where is Congress on a federal law? Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., introduced a Right to Try bill in January 2017. The bill passed Aug. 3. A companion bill is in the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.

What is The Greenbrier, the resort GOP members were headed to when their train hit a truck?

A train carrying Republican lawmakers to a retreat in the mountains of West Virginia struck a truck Wednesday, killing at least one person and injuring several others, according to authorities.

The Amtrak train was carrying members of Congress, their wives and staff members to The Greenbrier resort in the Allegheny Mountains near White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, when it struck a garbage truck that was apparently on the track.

According to Capitol Police, there were no serious injuries to anyone on the train. The person killed was on the garbage truck, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Republican members of Congress were on the chartered Amtrak train on their way to a retreat where Vice President Mike Pence was to speak Wednesday night and President Donald Trump was to appear on Thursday. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and several Cabinet members, plus 35 U.S. senators and 180 members of the House of Representatives, were to be at the three-day gathering.

The retreat at The Greenbrier, a resort that sits on some 11,000 acres, is an annual affair for GOP members of Congress. The resort has a storied history that includes stints as a hospital, a holding place for Axis diplomats during World War II, and the site for a secret bunker built to keep top members of the government safe in the event of a nuclear war.

 Here’s what to know about The Greenbrier (from The Greenbrier website):

  • Guests came to the area where The Greenbrier sits as early as 1778 to “take the waters.”
  • Retreats at the property began in the 1830s when politicians, lawyers, planters and others would gather. The retreats took place in the summer, according to The Greenbrier, because the mountains offered relief from the heat.
  • Five sitting presidents stayed there between 1830-1861.
  • By 1858, construction began on the first large hotel on the site. It was known as “The Old White.”
  • Both sides stayed on the grounds of the hotel during the Civil War.
  • The Greenbrier closed during the Civil War.
  • The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway purchased The Greenbrier in 1910, and by 1913 it has expanded the hotel to include mineral baths, a golf course and a new hotel.
  • The resort grows in popularity among the wealthy. Joe and Rose Kennedy honeymooned there and President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson spent a holiday there.
  • The resort sees another major renovation in 1922.
  • In 1941, the U.S. State Department leased the hotel for seven months to relocate German, Japanese and Italian diplomats and their families from Washington, D.C., “until their exchange for U.S. diplomats similarly stranded overseas.” A year later, the U.S. Army purchased and converted the hotel into a 2,000-bed hospital known as Ashford General Hospital.
  • In 1946, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway reacquired the hotel from the U.S. government, renovated it and reopened the hotel in 1948.
  • In the 1950s, amid increasing alarm over a possible nuclear attack, the federal government asked The Greenbrier if it could build an “Emergency Relocation Center,” a bunker that would house the president and/or members of Congress in case of a nuclear attack. The Greenbrier owners agree and built an underground facility code-named “Project Greek Island.” The bunker remained classified and mostly unknown for 30 years. The bunker was decommissioned in 1992.
  • The Greenbrier was purchased in 2009 by Jim Justice. Justice, at the time, was an entrepreneur. He is now governor of West Virginia, who prior to his election in 2016, announced at a Trump rally in Huntington, West Virginia, that he was changing parties to become a Republican.

State of the Union transcript: Read President Trump’s speech

President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union speech Tuesday. 

The speech lasted around 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Here is the transcript of the president’s prepared remarks, as provided by the White House.

“Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and my fellow Americans:

Less than 1 year has passed since I first stood at this podium, in this majestic chamber, to speak on behalf of the American People — and to address their concerns, their hopes, and their dreams. That night, our new Administration had already taken swift action. A new tide of optimism was already sweeping across our land.

Each day since, we have gone forward with a clear vision and a righteous mission — to make America great again for all Americans.

Over the last year, we have made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success. We have faced challenges we expected, and others we could never have imagined. We have shared in the heights of victory and the pains of hardship. We endured floods and fires and storms. But through it all, we have seen the beauty of America’s soul, and the steel in America’s spine.

Each test has forged new American heroes to remind us who we are, and show us what we can be.

We saw the volunteers of the “Cajun Navy,” racing to the rescue with their fishing boats to save people in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane.

We saw strangers shielding strangers from a hail of gunfire on the Las Vegas strip.

We heard tales of Americans like Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashlee Leppert, who is here tonight in the gallery with Melania. Ashlee was aboard one of the first helicopters on the scene in Houston during Hurricane Harvey. Through 18 hours of wind and rain, Ashlee braved live power lines and deep water, to help save more than 40 lives. Thank you, Ashlee.

We heard about Americans like firefighter David Dahlberg. He is here with us too. David faced down walls of flame to rescue almost 60 children trapped at a California summer camp threatened by wildfires.

To everyone still recovering in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, California, and everywhere else — we are with you, we love you, and we will pull through together.

Some trials over the past year touched this chamber very personally. With us tonight is one of the toughest people ever to serve in this House — a guy who took a bullet, almost died, and was back to work three and a half months later: the legend from Louisiana, Congressman Steve Scalise.

We are incredibly grateful for the heroic efforts of the Capitol Police Officers, the Alexandria Police, and the doctors, nurses, and paramedics who saved his life, and the lives of many others in this room.

In the aftermath of that terrible shooting, we came together, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as representatives of the people. But it is not enough to come together only in times of tragedy. Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve.

Over the last year, the world has seen what we always knew: that no people on Earth are so fearless, or daring, or determined as Americans. If there is a mountain, we climb it. If there is a frontier, we cross it. If there is a challenge, we tame it. If there is an opportunity, we seize it.

So let us begin tonight by recognizing that the state of our Union is strong because our people are strong.

And together, we are building a safe, strong, and proud America.

Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone. After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages.

Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low. African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.

Small business confidence is at an all-time high. The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion in value. That is great news for Americans’ 401k, retirement, pension, and college savings accounts.

And just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history.

Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.

To lower tax rates for hardworking Americans, we nearly doubled the standard deduction for everyone. Now, the first $24,000 earned by a married couple is completely tax-free. We also doubled the child tax credit.

A typical family of four making $75,000 will see their tax bill reduced by $2,000 — slashing their tax bill in half.

This April will be the last time you ever file under the old broken system — and millions of Americans will have more take-home pay starting next month.

We eliminated an especially cruel tax that fell mostly on Americans making less than $50,000 a year — forcing them to pay tremendous penalties simply because they could not afford government-ordered health plans. We repealed the core of disastrous Obamacare — the individual mandate is now gone.

We slashed the business tax rate from 35 percent all the way down to 21 percent, so American companies can compete and win against anyone in the world. These changes alone are estimated to increase average family income by more than $4,000.

Small businesses have also received a massive tax cut, and can now deduct 20 percent of their business income.

Here tonight are Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger of Staub Manufacturing — a small business in Ohio. They have just finished the best year in their 20-year history. Because of tax reform, they are handing out raises, hiring an additional 14 people, and expanding into the building next door.

One of Staub’s employees, Corey Adams, is also with us tonight. Corey is an all-American worker. He supported himself through high school, lost his job during the 2008 recession, and was later hired by Staub, where he trained to become a welder. Like many hardworking Americans, Corey plans to invest his tax‑cut raise into his new home and his two daughters’ education. Please join me in congratulating Corey.

Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses — many of them thousands of dollars per worker. Apple has just announced it plans to invest a total of $350 billion in America, and hire another 20,000 workers.

This is our new American moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American Dream.

So to every citizen watching at home tonight — no matter where you have been, or where you come from, this is your time. If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve anything.

Tonight, I want to talk about what kind of future we are going to have, and what kind of Nation we are going to be. All of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family.

We all share the same home, the same heart, the same destiny, and the same great American flag.

Together, we are rediscovering the American way.

In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American life. Our motto is “in God we trust.”

And we celebrate our police, our military, and our amazing veterans as heroes who deserve our total and unwavering support.

Here tonight is Preston Sharp, a 12-year-old boy from Redding, California, who noticed that veterans’ graves were not marked with flags on Veterans Day. He decided to change that, and started a movement that has now placed 40,000 flags at the graves of our great heroes. Preston: a job well done.

Young patriots like Preston teach all of us about our civic duty as Americans. Preston’s reverence for those who have served our Nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem.

Americans love their country. And they deserve a Government that shows them the same love and loyalty in return.

For the last year we have sought to restore the bonds of trust between our citizens and their Government.

Working with the Senate, we are appointing judges who will interpret the Constitution as written, including a great new Supreme Court Justice, and more circuit court judges than any new administration in the history of our country.

We are defending our Second Amendment, and have taken historic actions to protect religious liberty.

And we are serving our brave veterans, including giving our veterans choice in their healthcare decisions. Last year, the Congress passed, and I signed, the landmark VA Accountability Act. Since its passage, my Administration has already removed more than 1,500 VA employees who failed to give our veterans the care they deserve — and we are hiring talented people who love our vets as much as we do.

I will not stop until our veterans are properly taken care of, which has been my promise to them from the very beginning of this great journey.

All Americans deserve accountability and respect — and that is what we are giving them. So tonight, I call on the Congress to empower every Cabinet Secretary with the authority to reward good workers — and to remove Federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.

In our drive to make Washington accountable, we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in history.

We have ended the war on American Energy — and we have ended the war on clean coal. We are now an exporter of energy to the world.

In Detroit, I halted Government mandates that crippled America’s autoworkers — so we can get the Motor City revving its engines once again.

Many car companies are now building and expanding plants in the United States — something we have not seen for decades. Chrysler is moving a major plant from Mexico to Michigan; Toyota and Mazda are opening up a plant in Alabama. Soon, plants will be opening up all over the country. This is all news Americans are unaccustomed to hearing — for many years, companies and jobs were only leaving us. But now they are coming back.

Exciting progress is happening every day.

To speed access to breakthrough cures and affordable generic drugs, last year the FDA approved more new and generic drugs and medical devices than ever before in our history.

We also believe that patients with terminal conditions should have access to experimental treatments that could potentially save their lives.

People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure — I want to give them a chance right here at home. It is time for the Congress to give these wonderful Americans the “right to try.”

One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs. In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States. That is why I have directed my Administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities. Prices will come down.

America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs, and our Nation’s wealth.

The era of economic surrender is over.

From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair and to be reciprocal.

We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones.

And we will protect American workers and American intellectual property, through strong enforcement of our trade rules.

As we rebuild our industries, it is also time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

America is a nation of builders. We built the Empire State Building in just 1 year — is it not a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?

I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve.

Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need.

Every Federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with State and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment — to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit.

Any bill must also streamline the permitting and approval process — getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps even one.

Together, we can reclaim our building heritage. We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land. And we will do it with American heart, American hands, and American grit.

We want every American to know the dignity of a hard day’s work. We want every child to be safe in their home at night. And we want every citizen to be proud of this land that we love.

We can lift our citizens from welfare to work, from dependence to independence, and from poverty to prosperity.

As tax cuts create new jobs, let us invest in workforce development and job training. Let us open great vocational schools so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full potential. And let us support working families by supporting paid family leave.

As America regains its strength, this opportunity must be extended to all citizens. That is why this year we will embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance.

Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families.

For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They have allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans. Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives.

Here tonight are two fathers and two mothers: Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado, and Robert Mickens. Their two teenage daughters — Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens — were close friends on Long Island. But in September 2016, on the eve of Nisa’s 16th Birthday, neither of them came home. These two precious girls were brutally murdered while walking together in their hometown. Six members of the savage gang MS-13 have been charged with Kayla and Nisa’s murders. Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors ‑- and wound up in Kayla and Nisa’s high school.

Evelyn, Elizabeth, Freddy, and Robert: Tonight, everyone in this chamber is praying for you. Everyone in America is grieving for you. And 320 million hearts are breaking for you. We cannot imagine the depth of your sorrow, but we can make sure that other families never have to endure this pain.

Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminals, to break into our country. We have proposed new legislation that will fix our immigration laws, and support our ICE and Border Patrol Agents, so that this cannot ever happen again.

The United States is a compassionate nation. We are proud that we do more than any other country to help the needy, the struggling, and the underprivileged all over the world. But as President of the United States, my highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, and my constant concern is for America’s children, America’s struggling workers, and America’s forgotten communities. I want our youth to grow up to achieve great things. I want our poor to have their chance to rise.

So tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties — Democrats and Republicans — to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed. My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too.

Here tonight is one leader in the effort to defend our country: Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Celestino Martinez — he goes by CJ. CJ served 15 years in the Air Force before becoming an ICE agent and spending the last 15 years fighting gang violence and getting dangerous criminals off our streets. At one point, MS-13 leaders ordered CJ’s murder. But he did not cave to threats or fear. Last May, he commanded an operation to track down gang members on Long Island. His team has arrested nearly 400, including more than 220 from MS-13.

CJ: Great work. Now let us get the Congress to send you some reinforcements.

Over the next few weeks, the House and Senate will be voting on an immigration reform package.

In recent months, my Administration has met extensively with both Democrats and Republicans to craft a bipartisan approach to immigration reform. Based on these discussions, we presented the Congress with a detailed proposal that should be supported by both parties as a fair compromise — one where nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs.

Here are the four pillars of our plan:

The first pillar of our framework generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age — that covers almost three times more people than the previous administration. Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States.

The second pillar fully secures the border. That means building a wall on the Southern border, and it means hiring more heroes like CJ to keep our communities safe. Crucially, our plan closes the terrible loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to enter our country — and it finally ends the dangerous practice of “catch and release.”

The third pillar ends the visa lottery — a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people. It is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system — one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.

The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration. Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future.

In recent weeks, two terrorist attacks in New York were made possible by the visa lottery and chain migration. In the age of terrorism, these programs present risks we can no longer afford.

It is time to reform these outdated immigration rules, and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century.

These four pillars represent a down-the-middle compromise, and one that will create a safe, modern, and lawful immigration system.

For over 30 years, Washington has tried and failed to solve this problem. This Congress can be the one that finally makes it happen.

Most importantly, these four pillars will produce legislation that fulfills my ironclad pledge to only sign a bill that puts America first. So let us come together, set politics aside, and finally get the job done.

These reforms will also support our response to the terrible crisis of opioid and drug addiction.

In 2016, we lost 64,000 Americans to drug overdoses: 174 deaths per day. Seven per hour. We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge.

My Administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need. The struggle will be long and difficult — but, as Americans always do, we will prevail.

As we have seen tonight, the most difficult challenges bring out the best in America.

We see a vivid expression of this truth in the story of the Holets family of New Mexico. Ryan Holets is 27 years old, and an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department. He is here tonight with his wife Rebecca. Last year, Ryan was on duty when he saw a pregnant, homeless woman preparing to inject heroin. When Ryan told her she was going to harm her unborn child, she began to weep. She told him she did not know where to turn, but badly wanted a safe home for her baby.

In that moment, Ryan said he felt God speak to him: “You will do it — because you can.” He took out a picture of his wife and their four kids. Then, he went home to tell his wife Rebecca. In an instant, she agreed to adopt. The Holets named their new daughter Hope.

Ryan and Rebecca: You embody the goodness of our Nation. Thank you, and congratulations.

As we rebuild America’s strength and confidence at home, we are also restoring our strength and standing abroad.

Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values. In confronting these dangers, we know that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the surest means of our defense.

For this reason, I am asking the Congress to end the dangerous defense sequester and fully fund our great military.

As part of our defense, we must modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression. Perhaps someday in the future there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we are not there yet.

Last year, I also pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the Earth. One year later, I am proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated almost 100 percent of the territory once held by these killers in Iraq and Syria. But there is much more work to be done. We will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated.

Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck is here tonight. Near Raqqa last November, Justin and his comrade, Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy, were on a mission to clear buildings that ISIS had rigged with explosives so that civilians could return to the city.

Clearing the second floor of a vital hospital, Kenton Stacy was severely wounded by an explosion. Immediately, Justin bounded into the booby-trapped building and found Kenton in bad shape. He applied pressure to the wound and inserted a tube to reopen an airway. He then performed CPR for 20 straight minutes during the ground transport and maintained artificial respiration through 2 hours of emergency surgery.

Kenton Stacy would have died if not for Justin’s selfless love for a fellow warrior. Tonight, Kenton is recovering in Texas. Raqqa is liberated. And Justin is wearing his new Bronze Star, with a “V” for “Valor.” Staff Sergeant Peck: All of America salutes you.

Terrorists who do things like place bombs in civilian hospitals are evil. When possible, we annihilate them. When necessary, we must be able to detain and question them. But we must be clear: Terrorists are not merely criminals. They are unlawful enemy combatants. And when captured overseas, they should be treated like the terrorists they are.

In the past, we have foolishly released hundreds of dangerous terrorists, only to meet them again on the battlefield — including the ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi.

So today, I am keeping another promise. I just signed an order directing Secretary Mattis to reexamine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay.

I am also asking the Congress to ensure that, in the fight against ISIS and al-Qa’ida, we continue to have all necessary power to detain terrorists — wherever we chase them down.

Our warriors in Afghanistan also have new rules of engagement. Along with their heroic Afghan partners, our military is no longer undermined by artificial timelines, and we no longer tell our enemies our plans.

Last month, I also took an action endorsed unanimously by the Senate just months before: I recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Shortly afterwards, dozens of countries voted in the United Nations General Assembly against America’s sovereign right to make this recognition. American taxpayers generously send those same countries billions of dollars in aid every year.

That is why, tonight, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to America’s friends.

As we strengthen friendships around the world, we are also restoring clarity about our adversaries.

When the people of Iran rose up against the crimes of their corrupt dictatorship, I did not stay silent. America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom.

I am asking the Congress to address the fundamental flaws in the terrible Iran nuclear deal.

My Administration has also imposed tough sanctions on the communist and socialist dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela.

But no regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea.

North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland.

We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from happening.

Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this dangerous position.

We need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to America and our allies.

Otto Warmbier was a hardworking student at the University of Virginia. On his way to study abroad in Asia, Otto joined a tour to North Korea. At its conclusion, this wonderful young man was arrested and charged with crimes against the state. After a shameful trial, the dictatorship sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labor, before returning him to America last June — horribly injured and on the verge of death. He passed away just days after his return.

Otto’s Parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, are with us tonight — along with Otto’s brother and sister, Austin and Greta. You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all. Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto’s memory with American resolve.

Finally, we are joined by one more witness to the ominous nature of this regime. His name is Mr. Ji Seong-ho.

In 1996, Seong-ho was a starving boy in North Korea. One day, he tried to steal coal from a railroad car to barter for a few scraps of food. In the process, he passed out on the train tracks, exhausted from hunger. He woke up as a train ran over his limbs. He then endured multiple amputations without anything to dull the pain. His brother and sister gave what little food they had to help him recover and ate dirt themselves — permanently stunting their own growth. Later, he was tortured by North Korean authorities after returning from a brief visit to China. His tormentors wanted to know if he had met any Christians. He had — and he resolved to be free.

Seong-ho traveled thousands of miles on crutches across China and Southeast Asia to freedom. Most of his family followed. His father was caught trying to escape, and was tortured to death.

Today he lives in Seoul, where he rescues other defectors, and broadcasts into North Korea what the regime fears the most ‑- the truth.

Today he has a new leg, but Seong-ho, I understand you still keep those crutches as a reminder of how far you have come. Your great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all.

Seong-ho’s story is a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom.

It was that same yearning for freedom that nearly 250 years ago gave birth to a special place called America. It was a small cluster of colonies caught between a great ocean and a vast wilderness. But it was home to an incredible people with a revolutionary idea: that they could rule themselves. That they could chart their own destiny. And that, together, they could light up the world.

That is what our country has always been about. That is what Americans have always stood for, always strived for, and always done.

Atop the dome of this Capitol stands the Statue of Freedom. She stands tall and dignified among the monuments to our ancestors who fought and lived and died to protect her.

Monuments to Washington and Jefferson — to Lincoln and King.

Memorials to the heroes of Yorktown and Saratoga — to young Americans who shed their blood on the shores of Normandy, and the fields beyond. And others, who went down in the waters of the Pacific and the skies over Asia.

And freedom stands tall over one more monument: this one. This Capitol. This living monument to the American people.

A people whose heroes live not only in the past, but all around us — defending hope, pride, and the American way.

They work in every trade. They sacrifice to raise a family. They care for our children at home. They defend our flag abroad. They are strong moms and brave kids. They are firefighters, police officers, border agents, medics, and Marines.

But above all else, they are Americans. And this Capitol, this city, and this Nation, belong to them.

Our task is to respect them, to listen to them, to serve them, to protect them, and to always be worthy of them.

Americans fill the world with art and music. They push the bounds of science and discovery. And they forever remind us of what we should never forget: The people dreamed this country. The people built this country. And it is the people who are making America great again.

As long as we are proud of who we are, and what we are fighting for, there is nothing we cannot achieve.

As long as we have confidence in our values, faith in our citizens, and trust in our God, we will not fail.

Our families will thrive.

Our people will prosper.

And our Nation will forever be safe and strong and proud and mighty and free.

Thank you, and God bless America.”

Donald Trump’s State of the Union address 2018: Live updates

President Donald Trump, bedeviled for a year by poor poll numbers and the Russia investigation, presents his first-ever State of the Union address to Congress and the nation on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET. 

The president is looking to showcase accomplishments of his first year while setting the tone for the second. The theme of this address is “Building a safe, strong and proud America.”

While this is Trump’s first State of the Union address, it is not the first time he has addressed a joint session of Congress. Trump spoke before Congress last February.

Check back for live updates.  

Live updates:

State of the Union: Here is a list of President Donald Trump’s guests for the speech

The White House released Monday a list of the people President Donald Trump’s has invited to the 2018 State of the Union address.

Among those who will be in the “first lady’s box” in the U.S. House of Representative gallery is the parents of teens believed killed by MS-13 gang members, a man who saved scores from a wildfire and a U.S. Marine who re-enlisted after he was blinded by a roadside bomb.

>> Read more trending news

Here is the full list of attendees, according to the White House:

  • Corey Adams, a welder in Dayton, Ohio.
  • Elizabeth Alvarado and Robert Mickens, the parents of Nisa Mickens, and Evelyn Rodriguez and Freddy Cuevas, the parents of Kayla Cuevas. Mickens and Cuevas were murdered in 2016. Authorities believe they were killed by the MS-13 gang.
  • Retired Cpl. Matthew Bradford, who was blinded and lost his legs in Iraq. After surgery, he re-enlisted in the Marine Corps.
  • Jon Bridgers, the founder of the Cajun Navy, a group that helped people in Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey.
  • David Dahlberg, a Southern California firefighter who saved 62 people from a wildfire.
  • Officer Ryan Holets, an Albuquerque, New Mexico, policeman who, with his wife, adopted a baby from parents who suffered from opioid addiction.
  • Coast Guard technician Ashlee Leppert. Leppert rescued dozens of people during the hurricanes that hit the U.S. last year.
  • Celestino “CJ” Martinez, a supervisory special agent for Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit. Martinez’s work has led to more than 100 arrests of MS-13 gang members.
  • Staff Sgt. Justin Peck, who saved a fellow soldier after a roadside bomb exploded in Syria in November.
  • Preston Sharp, who launched the Flag and Flower Challenge to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers.
  • Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger, who gave their employees a large bonus at the end of last year, due, they say, to the passage of the GOP tax bill. 

The State of the Union address begins at 9 p.m. ET, Tuesday. Click here for live updates during the speech.

Wait, State of the what? Ticket to speech misspelled

Some of the tickets printed for Tuesday’s State of the Union address contained a typo and welcomed guests to the “State of the Uniom.”

The mistake on the tickets, printed by the Office of the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper, was discovered and new tickets were being printed. Most had not been distributed. The tickets are for guests of members of Congress to gain access to the gallery seats in the House of Representatives, where the speech takes place.

Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), chose to make light of the typo, saying he is looking forward to the “State of the Uniom” speech.

Arizona Congressman Raul M. Grijalva took another tack, slamming Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

"Just received my ticket for the State of the Union. Looks like @BetsyDeVosEd was in charge of spell checking... #SOTUniom," he tweeted.

State of the Union: Donate $35 to Trump and you can have your name flashed on the screen during livestream of speech

If you have ever dreamed of seeing your name on the screen during the State of Union, President Donald Trump has a deal for you.

On Monday, Trump texted his supporters telling them that for a donation of at least $35 they could have their name flashed across the screen during a livestream of the State of the Union speech, according to a story in the Washington Post.

>>Live updates State of the Union 2018: What time, what channel, livestream, protests

The link from the text opens a campaign donation window at donaldjtrump.com, the website for Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign.

From there you are given the option to donate various sums of money, with $35 being the least amount you can give to have your name flashed on the screen during the donaldjtrump.com livestream of the speech.

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“The State of the Union speech is not about me. It’s about YOU. Which is why I will have the names of every supporter who contributes today broadcast during my speech on the Official DJT for President Livestream!,” the pitch for a contribution reads. “Enough of the Fake News Media. It’s time for them to hear from the AMERICAN PEOPLE. Show how many Americans are dedicated to our movement! Contribute NOW and add your name to my Official List.”

Vote could come today on Nunes ‘secret memo;’ what time, what is in it

A classified U.S. House committee memo may see the light of day soon with a vote expected Monday afternoon that could begin a process to allow for the classified document to become public.

The memorandum, compiled by Republican staffers on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is believed to list missteps by the FBI and Justice Department concerning surveillance of a member of the Trump campaign.

The New York Times is reporting that the memo claims Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein approved an application to extend federal surveillance of former Trump campaign associate Carter Page shortly after Rosenstein took office. The newspaper cites “three people familiar” with the memo.

The problem with the approval of the application, the memo alleges, is that FBI and DOJ officials did not explain to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that they were seeking to expand a warrant to surveil Page based on information collected in a dossier compiled by investigator Christopher Steele. That dossier was financed in part by the Democratic National Committee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

While the public has not seen the memo, House members have been allowed to read it. Democrats in the House have prepared a rebuttal memo but Democratic leadership has not released that to the public, either. 

A vote on whether to release the memo could take place by the House Intelligence Committee, led by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), at 5 p.m. ET., Monday. The release of the memo would come based on a seldom-used House rule that allows a vote to consider declassification of sensitive material.

If the measure passes the House committee vote, President Donald Trump would have five days to block the release of the document. If after five days there is no White House action, the information would be released publicly. 

According to DOJ officials, they have not seen the memo. Last week they warned Nunes it would be “reckless” to release the document. 

State of the Union response: Nine things to know about Joseph Kennedy III

Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, (D-Mass.), will deliver the Democrats’ response to the State of the Union speech, party leaders announced Friday.

Kennedy, who is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and a three-term congressman from Massachusetts, will give the response following President Donald Trump’s speech on Tuesday.

>>Live updates State of the Union 2018: What time, what channel, livestream, protests

“While President Trump has consistently broken his promises to the middle class, Congressman Kennedy profoundly understands the challenges facing hard-working men and women across the country," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.), said in a statement. "His leadership has been vital in educating a next-generation workforce, in creating good-paying manufacturing jobs and in expanding opportunities for the middle class.”

Here are nine things you may not know about Kennedy:

  1. Kennedy is 37 years old. He was born in Brighton, Mass., and raised in Boston. 
  2. His father is Joseph Kennedy II, the son of Robert Kennedy.
  3. He and twin brother Matthew, are the oldest of Robert and Ethel Kennedy’s grandsons.
  4. Kennedy speaks fluent Spanish.
  5. He volunteered with the Peace Corps.
  6. He was an assistant district attorney before he was elected to Congress
  7. He is married to Lauren Anne Birchfield, an attorney. 
  8. The couple met in a Harvard Law School class taught by then-future Sen. Elizabeth Warren, (D-Mass.). They have two children.
  9. Kennedy’s net worth is estimated to be between $15 million and $55 million.

 Source: Joekennedyforcongress.comBusiness Insider

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