5 things to know for January 18: Cohen, shutdown, migrants, Indian guru, food ads

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Popular spiritual leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was sentenced to 20 years in prison for raping two of his followers

Posted: Jan 18, 2019 6:38 AM


New York Harbor isn't exactly pristine. A nonprofit hopes to change that with the help of a billion oysters. Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Russia investigation

President Donald Trump personally directed his longtime former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the Moscow Trump Tower project, two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter told BuzzFeed. The law enforcement officials told BuzzFeed that Trump directed Cohen to claim negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow ended months earlier than they actually did. The law enforcement sources told BuzzFeed that Cohen confirmed to special counsel Robert Mueller's team that Trump issued the order to lie to Congress. CNN has not corroborated the BuzzFeed report.

Mueller's office learned Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization, internal company emails, text messages and other documents, Buzzfeed reports. When asked for comment, Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani told CNN, "If you believe Cohen, I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge." Cohen declined to comment to BuzzFeed, as did a spokesperson for the special counsel's office.

2. Government shutdown

President Trump was unusually quiet after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked him to postpone the State of the Union address because of the partial government shutdown. Now, we know why. Trump engineered an unexpected political maneuver of his own, pulling the military plane Pelosi was going to use on a trip to Afghanistan just an hour before she was scheduled to leave. In a letter to Pelosi announcing his decision, Trump cited the shutdown. He also told her she could still make the trip -- to a war zone -- by flying commercial, if she wished. This ongoing duel between the President and House speaker, while definitely entertaining, does absolutely nothing to end the 28-day partial government shutdown that's affecting about 800,000 federal workers.

3. Migrant families

The Trump administration was working on a policy to separate migrant families at the US-Mexico border as early as December 2017, according to a 2017 memo released by a Democratic senator. The date of the memo is significant because Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen claimed months later in a tweet that no such policy existed. In the draft memo, Homeland Security and Justice Department officials discussed separating families and possibly denying children asylum hearings. A Homeland Security spokeswoman responding to the memo's release said the administration was exploring "all legal options" to stop illegal immigration at a time of increased apprehensions on the border. This comes as a new inspector general report reveals the government separated thousands more children than it previously acknowledged.

4. Indian spiritual guru

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, a controversial Indian spiritual guru, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a journalist. Singh and three aides were convicted on murder and conspiracy charges in the 2002 shooting death of Ram Chander Chhatrapati, editor of a Hindi-language newspaper. Chhatrapati's paper had published a letter that helped expose the sexual abuse of women within Singh's sect. Singh, who was already in prison for the rape of two female followers, remains an influential figure in India, where he commands a loyal following. He was known as the "guru of bling" because of his once-flamboyant lifestyle.

5. Junk food ads

TV programming aimed at black and Hispanic kids has commercials that almost exclusively push fast food, unhealthy snacks, candy and sugary drinks, a new study says. The study, from the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, says junk food comprised 86% of ad spending on black-targeted programming and 82% of spending on Spanish-language television in 2017. "They're targeting them with the worst products," the study's lead author said. Obesity rates for non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanic youth far outpace the rates for white and Asian youth, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Too cool for school

A group of K-Pop stars had their diplomas revoked by South Korea because they missed too many classes.

It's OK

Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery -- who dropped THAT pass during the playoff loss to the Saints -- met with the schoolkids who consoled him.

DNA discount

Want to travel to Mexico? You might want to get a DNA test first. It could help you get a big discount from the country's national airline. No, really.

Power boost

Ford's going to try to electrify sales of its popular F-150 trucks by putting out an electric plug-in version of the vehicles.

TODAY'S NUMBER

139 million

The number of Netflix subscribers worldwide

TODAY'S QUOTE

"Are you kidding?"

Journalist Noor Tagouri, after she was misidentified as a Pakistani actress in the latest issue of Vogue magazine. Tagouri says "misrepresentation and misidentification" of Muslims in the media "is a constant problem."

AND FINALLY

Dance off

Let's shimmy into the weekend with this one, which features a man who traveled the world and filmed himself dancing with strangers, all to make you smile. (Click to view.)

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 33558

Reported Deaths: 2110
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9616571
Lake3538185
Cass15897
Allen145168
St. Joseph124834
Elkhart116328
Hendricks116171
Hamilton115693
Johnson1093108
Madison58559
Porter51627
Bartholomew50034
Clark49241
LaPorte42423
Howard39526
Tippecanoe3903
Jackson3791
Delaware37736
Shelby36822
Hancock32728
Floyd31839
Boone30935
Morgan27824
Vanderburgh2652
Montgomery23517
White2318
Decatur22431
Clinton2231
Noble21121
Grant20621
Harrison19221
Dubois1923
Henry16910
Greene16824
Monroe16612
Warrick16628
Dearborn16621
Vigo1648
Lawrence15423
Miami1411
Putnam1367
Jennings1304
Orange12522
Scott1193
Kosciusko1111
Franklin1098
Ripley1086
Carroll922
Marshall901
Daviess8516
Steuben812
Newton7710
Wayne776
Fayette767
Wabash762
LaGrange712
Jasper651
Washington521
Jay500
Fulton481
Clay471
Rush462
Randolph463
Pulaski460
Jefferson431
Whitley393
Starke363
Sullivan341
Owen341
Brown331
DeKalb331
Perry310
Benton300
Knox290
Wells280
Huntington272
Tipton251
Crawford240
Blackford242
Fountain202
Switzerland200
Spencer191
Parke170
Posey160
Gibson142
Adams131
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0164

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 117455

Reported Deaths: 5270
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook762663570
Lake8063287
DuPage7543362
Kane6188170
Will5442269
Winnebago215654
McHenry151471
St. Clair109179
Kankakee87144
Kendall76919
Rock Island64624
Champaign6177
Madison56558
Boone42817
DeKalb3924
Sangamon34629
Jackson26810
Randolph2674
McLean21713
Peoria2128
Ogle2023
Stephenson1992
Macon19519
Clinton18117
Union1519
LaSalle14713
Whiteside13512
Iroquois1314
Coles12514
Unassigned1250
Out of IL1191
Warren1130
Jefferson10116
Knox970
Grundy952
Monroe9411
McDonough878
Lee791
Cass710
Tazewell714
Henry680
Williamson642
Pulaski510
Marion500
Jasper457
Macoupin452
Adams441
Perry420
Montgomery391
Vermilion391
Morgan351
Christian334
Jo Daviess320
Livingston322
Douglas260
Menard210
Fayette203
Ford201
Jersey201
Woodford192
Mason180
Washington180
Mercer170
Hancock160
Shelby161
Bureau151
Carroll142
Bond121
Franklin120
Piatt120
Schuyler120
Clark110
Crawford110
Fulton110
Moultrie110
Brown100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Effingham71
Johnson70
Massac70
Saline70
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Edgar10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
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A wonderful Saturday with sunshine expected!
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