. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Trump’s proposal to break budget deadlock falls flat

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans have released a measure designed around President Donald Trump’s proposal for breaking a budget impasse, its centerpiece his demand for $5.7 billion to build a southern border wall all but guaranteeing Democratic opposition and no foreseeable end to a partial government shutdown.

As the shutdown dragged through its fifth week, another missed paycheck loomed for hundreds of thousands of workers.

Voting in Congress was not expected to unfold until later in the week. Even then it seemed doubtful that the 1,300-page measure, dubbed the “End The Shutdown And Secure The Border Act,” had any chance of passing swiftly.

Senate Republicans hold a 53-47 majority but would need Democrats to reach the usual 60-vote threshold for bills to advance. Not a single Democrat publicly expressed support for Trump’s proposal since he announced it over the weekend.

Details of the measure released late Monday highlight the trade-off of border wall funding for temporary protection from deportation for some immigrants. The Republican package would reopen the shuttered parts of the government and boost some spending. To try to draw more bipartisan support, it adds $12.7 billion in supplemental funding for regions hit by hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters.

___

Trump lawyer walks back comments about Moscow project

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Monday walked back comments he made about discussions Trump had with his former personal attorney about a real estate project in Moscow during the presidential election campaign.

Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in 2017 by saying he had abandoned the Trump Tower project in January 2016 even though prosecutors say he actually pursued it into June.

Giuliani suggested in a TV interview Sunday that Trump remembers conversations with Cohen about the project “up to as far as October, November,” or right up until the election. That extends the timeline for the Russian business deal well beyond what the president has publicly acknowledged.

Giuliani said Monday in a three-sentence statement that his comments “did not represent the actual timing or circumstances of any discussions.” He said his comments were “hypothetical” and “not based on conversations” he had with the president.

He concluded by saying the Moscow project “was in the earliest stage and did not advance beyond a free non-binding letter of intent.”

___

10 Things to Know for Today

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

1. SENATE GOP MOVES ON TRUMP PROPOSAL TO END SHUTDOWN

Democrats are expected to balk at the $5.7 billion the president wants to build a border wall, alongside temporary protection from deportation for some immigrants.

2. WHERE DEMOCRATS ARE LEANING IN 2020

As the presidential primary takes shape, almost no policy is too liberal for Democrats fighting to win over their party’s base.

___

China demands US drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

BEIJING (AP) — China on Tuesday demanded the U.S. drop a request that Canada extradite a top executive of the tech giant Huawei, shifting blame to Washington in a case that has severely damaged Beijing’s relations with Ottawa.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Meng Wanzhou’s case was out of the ordinary and Canada’s extradition treaty with the U.S. infringed on the “safety and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.”

Hua said China demands that the U.S. withdraw the arrest warrant against Meng and “not make a formal extradition request to the Canadian side.”

Hua’s remarks come after More than 100 academics and former diplomats signed a letter calling on China to release two Canadians detained in apparent retaliation for Meng’s arrest.

They also follow a report by the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail that the U.S. plans to formally request Meng’s extradition to face charges that she committed fraud by misleading banks about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.

___

Afghan officials: Death toll rises to 45 in Taliban attack

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan was reeling on Tuesday from a brazen Taliban assault on a military base in the country’s east the previous day that killed at least 45 people and wounded as many as 70, most of them military personnel, according to provincial officials.

There were fears, however, that the death toll from the daytime assault on the base, which also serves as a training center for a pro-government militia and is run by the country’s intelligence service, was even higher.

The attack began when a suicide bomber drove a Humvee into the base in eastern Maidan Wardak province and detonated his load as he rammed the vehicle into the main building there, according to Khawanin Sultani, a council member.

The building collapsed from the explosion, which likely contributed to the high casualty numbers.

The Taliban, who promptly claimed responsibility in a statement to the media just hours after the attack, later said in a separate statement that they had met again on Monday with U.S. representatives to discuss “ending the invasion of Afghanistan” in talks that would continue on Tuesday. They are meeting in Qatar, where the Taliban have a political office.

___

Political shifts, sales slump cast shadow over gun industry

When gunmakers and dealers gather this week in Las Vegas for the industry’s largest annual conference, they will be grappling with slumping sales and a shift in politics that many didn’t envision two years ago when gun-friendly Donald Trump and a GOP-controlled Congress took office.

Some of the top priorities for the industry — expanding the reach of concealed carry permits and easing restrictions on so-called “silencers” — remain in limbo, and prospects for expanding gun rights are nil for the foreseeable future.

Instead, fueled by the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, the federal government banned bump stocks and newly in-charge U.S. House Democrats introduced legislation that would require background checks for virtually every firearm sale, regardless of whether it’s from a gun dealer or a private sale.

Even without Democrats’ gains in November’s midterm elections, the industry was facing a so-called “Trump slump,” a plummet in sales that happens amid gun rights-friendly administrations. Background checks were at an all-time high in 2016, President Barack Obama’s last full year in office, numbering more than 27.5 million; since then, background checks have been at about 25 million each year.

Gary Ramey, owner of Georgian gunmaker Honor Defense, says the mood at last year’s SHOT Show, which stands for Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade, was subdued. He’s expecting the same this year.

___

Democrats lurch left on top policies as 2020 primary begins

NEW YORK (AP) — Democratic presidential contender Julian Castro launched his campaign by pledging support for “Medicare for All,” free universal preschool, a large public investment in renewable energy and two years of free college for all Americans.

That wasn’t enough for some of his party’s most liberal members.

Critics on social media quickly knocked Castro’s plan to provide only two years of free higher education — instead of four — as “half measures,” ”scraps” and “corporate Dem doublespeak.” Aware of the backlash, the former Obama administration Cabinet member clarified his position in an interview days later.

“At least the first two years of college or university or apprenticeship program should be tuition free — and preferably four years,” Castro told The Associated Press. “We’re going to work toward that.”

Welcome to the 2020 presidential primary. Almost no policy is too liberal for Democrats fighting to win over their party’s base, which is demanding a presidential nominee dedicated to pursuing bold action on America’s most pressing challenges.

___

3 groups; many videos; many interpretations of DC encounter

A group of five black men shouting vulgar insults while protesting centuries of oppression. Dozens of white Catholic high school students visiting Washington for a rally to end abortion. And Native Americans marching to end injustice for indigenous peoples across the globe who have seen their lands overrun by outside settlers.

The three groups met for just a few minutes Friday at the base of the Lincoln Memorial, an encounter captured in videos that went viral over the weekend — and again cast a spotlight on a polarized nation that doesn’t appear to agree on anything.

At first the focus was on a short video showing one of the high school students, Nick Sandmann, wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat and appearing to smirk while a crowd of other teens laughed derisively behind him as a 64-year-old Native American, Nathan Phillips, played a traditional chant on a drum.

Pull back further and a different view emerged, however, in a separate video showing members of a group calling itself the Black Hebrew Israelites taunting everyone on the mall that day, calling the Native Americans who had gathered there for the Indigenous Peoples March “Uncle Tomahawks” and “$5 Indians” and the high school students “crackers” and worse.

It was an ugly encounter of spewed epithets but one that nevertheless ended with no punches thrown or other violence.

___

US aid cuts hit Palestinians, further dimming hope for peace

JERUSALEM (AP) — Tens of thousands of Palestinians are no longer getting food aid or basic health services from America, U.S.-funded infrastructure projects have been halted, and an innovative peace-building program in Jerusalem is scaling back its activities.

The Trump administration’s decision last year to cut more than $200 million in development aid to the Palestinians is forcing NGOs to slash programs and lay off staff as the effects ripple through a community that has spent more than two decades promoting peace in the Middle East.

The U.S. government’s development agency, USAID, has provided more than $5.5 billion to the Palestinians since 1994 for infrastructure, health, education, governance and humanitarian aid programs, all intended to underpin the eventual creation of an independent state.

Much of that aid is channeled through international NGOs, which were abruptly informed of the cuts last summer and have been scrambling to keep their programs alive.

President Donald Trump says the USAID cuts are aimed at pressuring the Palestinians to return to peace talks, but Palestinian officials say the move has further poisoned relations after the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last year. The aid groups, many of which have little or no connection to the Palestinian Authority, say the cuts hurt the most vulnerable Palestinians and those most committed to peace with Israel.

___

5 burning questions ahead of Tuesday’s Oscar nominations

NEW YORK (AP) — The Oscars still don’t have a host, but on Tuesday morning, they’ll at least have nominees.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will unveil nominations to the 91st Oscars on Tuesday morning at 8:20 a.m. EST from the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills, California. The nominations, to be announced by Kumail Nanjiani and Tracee Ellis Ross, will be livestreamed globally at Oscars.com , Oscars.org and on the academy’s digital platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

The lead-up to Tuesday’s nominations has been rocky for both the film academy and some of the movies in contention. Shortly after being announced as host, Kevin Hart was forced to withdraw over years-old homophobic tweets that the comedian eventually apologized for. That has left the Oscars, one month before its Feb. 24th ceremony, without an emcee, and likely to stay that way.

Hollywood’s awards season has been an especially combustible one, too. Some contenders, like Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book” and the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” have suffered waves upon waves of backlash, even as their awards tallies have mounted. On Saturday, “Green Book” won the top award from the Producers Guild, an honor that has been a reliable Oscar barometer. In the 10 years since the Oscars expanded its best-picture ballot, the PGA winner has gone on to win best picture eight times.

The season’s steadiest contender — Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” — looked potentially unbeatable until it got beat. Despite an enviable string of awards and more than $400 million in worldwide box office, Cooper’s lauded remake was almost totally ignored at the Golden Globes, winning just best song and losing best picture, drama, to the popular but critically derided “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a movie that jettisoned its director (Bryan Singer) mid-production.