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Longest shutdown over: Trump signs bill to reopen government


Submitting to mounting pressure amid growing disruption, President Donald Trump signed a bill Friday to reopen the government for three weeks, backing down from his demand that Congress give him money for his border wall before federal agencies get back to work.

Standing alone in the Rose Garden, Trump said he would sign legislation funding shuttered agencies until Feb. 15 and try again to persuade lawmakers to finance his long-sought wall. The deal he reached with congressional leaders contains no new money for the wall but ends the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

The Senate then the House swiftly and unanimously approved the deal. Late Friday, Trump signed it into law. The administration asked federal department heads to reopen offices in a “prompt and orderly manner” and said furloughed employees can return to work.

Trump’s retreat came in the 35th day of the partial shutdown as intensifying delays at the nation’s airports and another missed payday for hundreds of thousands of federal workers brought new urgency to efforts to resolve the standoff.

“This was in no way a concession,” Trump said in a tweet late Friday, fending off critics who wanted him to keep fighting. “It was taking care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the Shutdown with the understanding that in 21 days, if no deal is done, it’s off to the races!”

The shutdown ended as Democratic leaders had insisted it must—reopen the government first, then talk border security.

“The president thought he could crack Democrats, and he didn’t, and I hope it’s a lesson for him,” said the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of her members: “Our unity is our power. And that is what maybe the president underestimated.”

Trump still made the case for a border wall and maintained he might again shut down the government over it. Yet as negotiations restart, Trump enters them from a weakened position. A strong majority of Americans blamed him for the standoff and rejected his arguments for a border wall, recent polls show.

“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15, again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United States to address this emergency,” Trump said.

The president has said he could declare a national emergency to fund the border wall unilaterally if Congress doesn’t provide the money. Such a move would almost certainly face legal hurdles.

As part of the deal with congressional leaders, a bipartisan committee of House and Senate lawmakers was being formed to consider border spending as part of the legislative process in the weeks ahead.

“They are willing to put partisanship aside, I think, and put the security of the American people first,” Trump said. He asserted that a “barrier or walls will be an important part of the solution.”

The deal includes back pay for some 800,000 federal workers who have gone without paychecks. The Trump administration promises to pay them as soon as possible.

Also expected is a new date for the president to deliver his State of the Union address, postponed during the shutdown. But it will not be Jan. 29 as once planned, according to a person familiar with the planning but unauthorized to discuss it.

As border talks resume, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hopes there will be “good-faith negotiations over the next three weeks to try to resolve our differences.”

Schumer said that while Democrats oppose the wall money, they agree on other ways to secure the border “and that bodes well for coming to an eventual agreement.”

In striking the accord, Trump risks backlash from conservatives who pushed him to keep fighting for the wall. Some lashed out Friday for his having yielded, for now, on his signature campaign promise.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter suggested on Twitter that she views Trump as “the biggest wimp” to serve as president.

Within the White House, there was broad recognition among Trump’s aides that the shutdown pressure was growing, and they couldn’t keep the standoff going indefinitely. The president’s approval numbers had suffered during the impasse.

The breakthrough came as LaGuardia Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey both experienced at least 90-minute delays in takeoffs Friday because of the shutdown. And the world’s busiest airport—Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport—was experiencing long security wait times, a warning sign the week before it expects 150,000 out-of-town visitors for the Super Bowl.

The standoff became so severe that, as the Senate opened with prayer, Chaplain Barry Black called on high powers in the “hour of national turmoil” to help senators do “what is right.”

Healthy, healthier, healthiest: Janesville School District works with hot lunch changes


Children can eat more sugar, more fat and fewer whole grains under scaled-back school lunch rules approved last month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue has argued that the changes were needed. Too much food was ending up in the trash, he said, and the rules were too restrictive.

Opponents countered that rolling back regulations isn’t good for children’s health.

James Degan, Janesville School District food service manager, noted the rule changes, but he has already moved on. He has bigger, healthier fish to fry and plans to stay the course with school lunch menus, for the most part.

The changes:

  • Under the Obama-era rules that took effect in 2014, all breads, cereals and pasta served to kids had to be at least 50 percent whole grain. Schools could apply for a wavier if they had trouble finding products. Now, schools don’t have to apply for a waiver.

“We did apply for the waiver for the first year,” Degan said.

He worried that students wouldn’t eat whole-grain pizza crust, sandwich bread and pasta.

He was wrong. The new foods took some getting used to, but students accepted them. After that first year, Degan didn’t apply for the waiver again.

“The companies have had time to reinvent themselves and their products,” he said.

Products with more whole grains have gotten better over time.

“I might consider going back to the old tortillas,” Degan said. “The whole-grain tortillas haven’t been very good.”

  • Under the 2014 regulations, added sugar and flavor were allowed only in skim milk. Now, students can have chocolate milk with 1 percent fat, as well.

That will increase the amount of fat and sugar in children’s diets. The amount of added sugar in 1 percent chocolate milk varies, depending on the brand.

The Janesville School District is part of a 57-district food-buying cooperative. The group gets the best prices if it sticks with one version of chocolate milk, either 1 percent or skim, Degan said. He hopes to do some taste testing with students before the cooperative decides.

  • Sodium levels had to be reduced significantly.

The 2014 rules were “very aggressive” on sodium, Degan said.

The rules required schools to cut salt levels by almost half by 2022. Purdue has extended the deadline to 2024. The 2014 rules required schools to then cut them again to even lower amounts.

“The last target was basically the amount of salt a heart patient would get in a hospital,” Degan said.

Overall, he doesn’t anticipate many changes in school menus.

“I don’t see any reason to take steps backward,” Degan said.

He and members of the cooperative are considering adding more restrictions by looking at “ingredients of concern,” including high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, artificial preservatives, added sugars, artificial colors, bleached flour, and hormones and antibiotics.

Trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup and added sugars have contributed to the obesity epidemic, and some people are sensitive to artificial preservatives and colors that are added to food, he said.

“We’re kind of copying what Minneapolis did,” Degan said.

The director of food service for Minneapolis Public Schools replaced processed foods such as tater tots and chicken nuggets with unprocessed potatoes and chicken.

That school district also tracks more than 20 “ingredients of concern.” They include those Degan mentioned as well as others, such as artificial sweeteners, MSG and bromated flour.

The local cooperative members are examining their order books to see what their alternatives are and if they can afford them.

Degan doesn’t think the changes will be cost prohibitive, considering the buying power the cooperative has.

To see a complete list of the Minneapolis Public Schools’ “ingredients of concern,” go to

Keeping kids fed for less than $3 per meal

During the 2017-18 school year, the Janesville School District earmarked $5.05 million for food service and served 1.78 million meals and snacks.

Using the full, unrounded numbers, the district spent $2.84 per meal or snack. That amount includes everything: the cost of labor and benefits, food, equipment, and administration.

For the 2018-19 school year, the budget is $5.2 million.

In Janesville, all elementary students are eligible for a free breakfast. More than half of all students are eligible to eat lunch for free or at a reduced cost.

Money for meals and snacks comes from a variety of sources, Degan said. They include:

  • $3.9 million from the federal government in the form of U.S. Department of Agriculture funds, grants and reimbursements.
  • $1.2 million from local sources. This money comes from the payment for milk and meals.
  • $116,000 from the state.

The federal money supports all children, not just those who live in poverty. Federal reimbursement rates are:

  • $3.39 per lunch for children who qualify for free meals. Breakfasts are reimbursed at $2.14 each for those children.
  • $2.99 per lunch for children who qualify for reduced-cost lunches. Breakfasts are reimbursed at $1.84 each.
  • 39 cents per meal for students who pay for lunches. Breakfasts are reimbursed at 31 cents each.

The state’s reimbursement rates are .0491 cents per lunch and .08106 cents per breakfast.

The district also participates in a federal program that allows school districts to offer meals to students in high-poverty schools. The district has 10 schools that qualify for the program.

Obituaries and death notices for Jan. 26, 2019

Mary E. Bartelson

Stanley Hendrickson Jr.

Michael J. O’Brien

Lyle W. Schinke

Edith Annette Schueler

Josephine Myrtle Schultz

John A. Terpstra

Complaint: Homicide suspect repeatedly threatened to kill shooting victim


Lucas E. Stuhr repeatedly threatened to kill the man he is accused of fatally shooting Wednesday night, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday in Rock County Court.

Stuhr, 39, of Browntown is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting death of Clifford A. Grice, 41, of Janesville, who was romantically involved with Stuhr’s ex-girlfriend. The ex-girlfriend witnessed the shooting.

Stuhr made his initial court appearance Friday via video feed. Court Commissioner Stephen Meyer set his bond at $500,000 and ordered him to have no contact with his ex-girlfriend.

Meyer said the high bond would alleviate concerns that Stuhr would not appear at his next court hearing. Authorities were worried he could harm himself, and Stuhr will have a competency hearing Tuesday.

Rock County District Attorney David O’Leary requested the $500,000 bond, saying he has a strong argument to convict Stuhr. He said prosecutors have an eyewitness, video evidence and a partial admission from Stuhr regarding the events before and after the shooting.

Stuhr told police he “blacked out” before the shooting. His next memory is fleeing the scene, according to the complaint.

When asked whether police would discover if his gun had been fired that night, Stuhr told authorities, “I hope not,” according to the complaint.

Stuhr was taken into custody after a pursuit by Green County authorities Wednesday night, police said this week.

O’Leary said Grice’s autopsy is still being completed. Preliminary reports say he suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the head, O’Leary said.

Police found Grice’s body slumped over on the pavement with his feet still in the car, according to the complaint.

Shortly after the ex-girlfriend arrived at Grice’s home Wednesday night, Stuhr pulled behind her vehicle while she and Grice sat in the vehicle in the driveway. The two men argued, and Stuhr returned to his vehicle, according to the complaint.

Grice was in the driver’s seat of the woman’s car, and she was seated in the passenger seat. Stuhr then got out of his vehicle, pulled open the driver’s side door of the woman’s car, and fired several rounds at Grice, according to the complaint.

Police are considering the incident a “domestic-related” homicide, Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore said earlier this week.

The woman told police Stuhr has been suicidal in the past. He threatened in text messages to kill Grice once he found out about their relationship, which began in October, according to the complaint.

The woman was the person who called 911 after the shooting, Lt. Charles Aagaard said.

Aagaard said police knew of a history of domestic violence between Stuhr and the woman, but they weren’t aware of any restraining order she had against Stuhr.

Police believe Stuhr fled the scene of the shooting in a dark-colored SUV. Officers in Green County located Stuhr in his vehicle later Wednesday evening in rural Browntown, which is west of Monroe. Stuhr sped away and led officers on a 20-mile chase east through Monroe toward Brodhead.

Police said Stuhr evaded vehicle stop devices police deployed, but officers boxed in his vehicle at a campground and mobile home park just west of Brodhead.

Stuhr got out of the vehicle and surrendered, but not before police saw him throw a semiautomatic handgun into a snowbank, police said.

Police said they recovered the gun. It had a logo of “the punisher” on it, according to the complaint.

Stuhr is scheduled for a competency hearing at 9 a.m. Tuesday before Judge Barbara McCrory.

Anthony Wahl 

Beloit Turner’s Jordan Majeed celebrates after a three-pointer in the first half of their home game against Evansville on Friday, Jan. 25.

Trump adviser Roger Stone is arrested in Mueller’s Russia investigation


Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative who helped launch President Donald Trump’s political career and later served as an informal political adviser, was arrested before dawn Friday on a federal indictment that outlined efforts by Trump’s 2016 campaign to seek Democratic Party emails hacked by Russia.

Stone said he would plead not guilty to seven felony charges and was released on a $250,000 bond. He emerged from the courthouse smiling, his arms outstretched in a V-for-victory pose made famous by his political idol, President Richard Nixon, who resigned from office during the Watergate scandal.

Stone had numerous conversations with high-level Trump campaign officials about WikiLeaks’ plans to release the stolen emails after obtaining them from Russian military intelligence officers, according to the indictment obtained by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

The emails were hacked as part of what U.S. intelligence has described as a Kremlin-backed effort to undermine U.S. democracy and boost Trump’s candidacy. Trump routinely cited the emails on the campaign trail as he railed against his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

After WikiLeaks posted thousands of stolen emails shortly before the Democratic National Convention in July 2016, “a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone” about what else WikiLeaks might have, according to the indictment. The document does not say who gave the order to contact Stone.

Stone allegedly updated people connected to Trump throughout the campaign, at one point telling a supporter that “the payload is still coming.” He also fielded an inquiry from Stephen K. Bannon, the Trump campaign’s chief executive, who was identified in the indictment as a “high-ranking” member of the team.

Days later, WikiLeaks began releasing emails hacked from the account of John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman.

Other suspects in the Russia investigation were allowed to surrender to law enforcement officials after an indictment. But heavily armed federal agents arrested Stone at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, early Friday, and he was brought to court in handcuffs.

He was charged with one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements and one count of witness tampering. The charges stem from his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, which conducted its own investigation of Russian political interference.

“I will plead not guilty to these charges,” Stone said at a raucous news conference outside the courthouse as supporters and hecklers shouted in the background. “I will defeat them in court. I believe this is a politically motivated investigation.”

He also pledged not to incriminate Trump, whom he has known for four decades.

“There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president,” Stone said.

Trump reacted angrily on Twitter, calling the Mueller investigation the “Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country!”

He also criticized how the FBI had arrested Stone at his home, tweeting, “Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better.”

Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Trump, downplayed the significance of Stone’s arrest.

“The indictment today does not allege Russian collusion by Roger Stone or anyone else,” he said. “Rather, the indictment focuses on alleged false statements Mr. Stone made to Congress.”

Sekulow did not respond to a question about whether Trump directed a campaign official to contact Stone about WikiLeaks, but Democrats made clear they planned to investigate the matter.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said his panel “will be eager to learn just who directed a senior campaign official to contact Stone about additional damaging information held by WikiLeaks, one of the publishing arms of Russian government hackers.”

Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, described the indictment as further proof that “the Trump campaign was a willing and active participant in a conspiracy with Russia and WikiLeaks to influence the 2016 election.”

“There are more conspirators yet to be held accountable—and at least one of them is named Donald Trump,” he said in a statement.

During the campaign, Stone sometimes suggested he had inside knowledge about the WikiLeaks plans. But since then he has adamantly denied any wrongdoing and downplayed his previous claims as empty hype.

Stone’s political career began in scandal when he volunteered for Nixon’s re-election campaign in 1972, gaining a reputation as a dirty trickster. Nixon resigned in disgrace in 1974, but Stone got a large tattoo of Nixon’s smiling face on his back.

He also cultivated a reputation as a bare-knuckle political operative willing to cross lines others would not, much like Trump’s late mentor, the disbarred New York lawyer Roy Cohn.

Stone met Trump while raising money for President Ronald Reagan’s campaign in 1980, and Stone soon began encouraging the New York real estate developer to run for the White House himself.

Stone did not play a major role in Trump’s insurgent presidential campaign—whether he was fired or quit is a matter of dispute—but he said they stayed in regular touch.

During the race, Stone drew attention by claiming he was in contact with Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder. He famously tweeted that Podesta would soon face his “time in the barrel” shortly before his hacked emails were released.

Stone has since said that he didn’t talk to Assange himself and that his tweet about Podesta was taken out of context.

According to the indictment, Stone sought information from WikiLeaks through an intermediary, Jerome Corsi, a far-right writer and conspiracy theorist, and then updated members of Trump’s campaign.

At one point, Stone told Bannon to expect “a load every week going forward” shortly before WikiLeaks started releasing Podesta’s emails.

Stone denied those conversations when asked by the House Intelligence Committee, the indictment charges.

He also allegedly tried to persuade an associate, Randy Credico, to provide false testimony to the House Intelligence Committee about their conversations involving WikiLeaks.

“Your lawyers should have told them you would assert your Fifth Amendment rights if compelled to appear,” Stone allegedly texted Credico, a radio host who had interviewed Assange on his show.

Stone later suggested Credico imitate a character in “The Godfather: Part II” who lied to Congress and later committed suicide, then called him “a rat” and “a stoolie,” according to the indictment.