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USA

The legal drinking age would be only 19 in Wisconsin under a bill circulated by the former president of the Tavern League and two other Republican lawmakers.

The proposal unveiled Wednesday calls for lowering the drinking age from the current minimum of 21 only if Wisconsin would not lose its federal highway funds.

A federal law passed in 1984 penalized states with a reduction in federal highway money if they didn’t have a minimum drinking age of 21.

The bill sponsors say that at age 19 “there are very few things that you cannot do,” but drinking is one of them.

They say lowering the drinking age would negate the need to spend “countless hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars” enforcing drinking laws, especially on college campuses. fox6now.com
U.S. President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Friday he is putting a decision to allow imports of big game trophies on hold until he can “review all conservation facts.”

The rule released on Friday allowing hunters who kill elephants in Zimbabwe to bring their trophies back to the United States outraged animal activists. reuters.com
Investors and customers of the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City carried deep ties to organized crime and drug trafficking, according to an NBC News and Reuters joint investigation.

A Brazilian real estate salesman who partnered with the Trumps to attract condo buyers for the tower told NBC that the Trumps and others connected to the project were unaware that he was attracting shady investors to the project, but that they never asked any questions.

The Reuters and NBC News investigation said it found no indication that the Trump family or the Trump Organization engaged in any illegal activity or know of the backgrounds of people who did have links to organized crime.

In a statement in response to the investigation, the Trump Organization distanced itself from the Panama project.

“The Trump Organization was not the owner, developer or seller of the Trump Ocean Club Panama project,” the statement said.

“Because of its limited role, the company was not responsible for the financing of the project and had no involvement in the sale of units or the retention of any real estate brokers.” thehill.com
The Pentagon claims that its air war against ISIS is one of the most accurate in history and that it is so careful in who it targets that the 14,000 US airstrikes in Iraq have killed just 89 civilians.

It turns out that the military’s assertion is a stunning underestimation of the true human cost of Washington’s three-year-old war against ISIS.

An 18-month-long investigation by the New York Times has found that the US-led military coalition is killing civilians in Iraq at a rate 31 times higher than it’s admitting.

“It is at such a distance from official claims that, in terms of civilian deaths, this may be the least transparent war in recent American history,” Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal report.

The US-led coalition claims that one civilian has been killed in every 157 airstrikes, but Khan and Gopal report that, actually, the rate is one civilian death for every five airstrikes – a rate 31 times as high as what the military claims.

Despite the advanced military techniques the coalition uses, however, it still cannot stop killing noncombatants because the US and its allies choose to fight ISIS primarily from the skies – it was inevitable that civilians would become collateral damage. vox.com
U.S. officials mounted a spirited defense of fossil fuels Monday at U.N. climate talks in Germany, to a chorus of protest from green energy campaigners and other participants.

Members of President Donald Trump’s administration and energy company representatives jointly hosted a controversial “side event” at the U.N. meeting, where they argued that coal and natural gas are here to stay, at least for a while.

“Without a question, fossil fuels will continue to be used,” George David Banks, a special energy and environment assistant to Trump, told the event — citing projections of the International Energy Agency.

Faced with this reality, “we would argue that it’s in the global interest to make sure that when fossil fuels are used, that it’s as clean and efficient as possible,” he insisted. japantimes.co.jp
When high levels of lead were discovered in the public water system in Flint, Mich., in 2015, Medicaid stepped in to help thousands of children get tested for poisoning and receive care.

When disabled children need to get to doctors’ appointments — either across town or hundreds of miles away — Medicaid pays for their transportation.

When middle-class older Americans deplete their savings to pay for costly nursing home care, Medicaid offers coverage.

The United States has become a Medicaid nation.

Although it started as a plan to cover only the poor, Medicaid now touches tens of millions of Americans who live above the poverty line.

The program serves as a backstop for America’s scattershot health care system, and as Republicans learned this year in their relentless battle to replace the Affordable Care Act, efforts to drastically change that can spur a backlash. usatoday.com
President Trump on Wednesday stopped his speech recapping his Asia trip to take a sip of water. 

Just more than 10 minutes into his speech at the White House, Trump abruptly paused and looked under his lectern for water. 

 “Thank you. They don’t have water. That’s OK,” he said.

Reporters then pointed to a small table next to the lectern. “To your right, sir,” one reporter said. 

He turned to the side, picked up a bottle of Fiji water with both hands and took a sip.   

Trump then continued recapping his visits to Japan and South Korea, praising the governments there for their cooperation against North Korea and on trade.  thehill.com
Richard Cordray, one of the few remaining Obama-era banking regulators, said on Wednesday that he plans to step down as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by the end of the month, clearing the way for President Trump to remake a watchdog agency loathed by Republicans and Wall Street.

Cordray’s turbulent six-year tenure at the 1,600-person agency was marked by aggressive efforts to rein in banks, payday lenders and debt collectors that often drew protests from the business community.

His frequent clashes with conservatives turned Cordray, an otherwise ordinary Washington bureaucrat from Ohio, into a favorite of Democrats and consumer groups and a villain to Republicans and the financial industry.

A federal judge once said that Cordray had “more unilateral authority than any other officer in any of the three branches of the U.S. government, other than the president.”

Cordray did not explain the timing of his decision, but it clears the way for him to potentially run for Ohio governor.

It also comes just a month after the CFPB suffered a major rebuke from Republicans in Congress who took the unusual step of blocking an agency rule that would have allowed consumers to sue their banks for the first time. washingtonpost.com
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is getting more specific about what he sees as perhaps the best, if impractical, option for preventing an Alabama Senate seat from falling into the hands of GOP nominee Roy Moore or a Democrat.

Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee has pulled its financial support from Moore's campaign.

At a Wall Street Journal event on Tuesday, McConnell said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions "would fit the profile" of someone who could run a competitive write-in bid for his old seat, which Moore is running to fill.

Though, McConnell acknowledged how difficult such an effort would be.

It's too late to take Moore's name off the ballot, and he is rallying his supporters against McConnell's pressure to quit the race in the face of allegations from a number of women who say he pursued them romantically or sexually assaulted them as teenagers.

A source close to Sessions tells NPR's Carrie Johnson that the attorney general has been telling people in Alabama that he is not interested in returning to the Senate. npr.org
A 60-year-old man was shot and killed Tuesday morning in Tampa's Seminole Heights area, the fourth such death in what police say is a string of unsolved killings in that neighborhood within the past month.

Ronald Felton was shot in the back just before 5 a.m., police said. He was crossing the street to a church where he regularly helped feed the homeless, his relatives told CNN affiliate WFLA.

Reginald Felton, his twin brother, said he urged Ronald not to go into the neighborhood at that time of day because of the other killings.

"I talked to him, but he got his own way, he still (goes) out at that time of the morning," he said.

Their sister said the whole family is shattered by the slaying.

"I've been watching the serial killer news and watching, listening, praying -- and for that to happen to my brother, to be shot four times at close range, that's hard," Linda Cunningham said. cnn.com