The Weekly National News Roundup – by Shlomo Rudman

Midterms- The midterm elections held on Tuesday had American voters returning control of the House of Representatives and the Republicans several extra seats in the Senate. The Democrats had to flip 23 Republican-held seats to gain a majority in the House, which they haven’t had since 2010. As it stands now, the Democrats have a 225-197 seat advantage in the House, with the election results of an additional 15 seats yet to be finalized. Republicans gained several seats in the Senate, although with several extremely tight races in Florida and Arizona yet to be called, it is unclear how many seats they will control, but they are guaranteed a majority.

Sessions Out- Attorney General Jeff Sessions submitted his resignation by request of President Trump. The resignation came almost immediately after President Trump held a press conference in which he declined to discuss Sessions’ future in his administration. Trump had been furious at Sessions ever since the Attorney General recused himself from the Russia investigation, prompting the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel. The president appointed Sessions’ chief of staff Mathew Whitaker as acting AG. Democrats are incensed at the move, saying Sessions’ was forced out to be replaced by Whitaker, who has called the Mueller investigation ‘fishy’ and ‘ridiculous’, in hopes that he will stymie Mueller’s scrutiny into his dealings with Russia. Over a dozen US state attorneys have signed a document calling for Whitaker to recuse himself completely from the investigation.

Mass Shooting- A shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California left 12 victims, including a police officer, dead. The shooter, identified as Ian David Long, was a veteran of the Marines and was known to frequent the bar. He turned the gun on himself when police began closing in on him. President Trump extended his condolences to the victims of the shooting and their families, and ordered flags around the country to be flown at half-staff in a show of mourning and solidarity.

Bomber Found Guilty- A man who set off a bomb in an underground passage in Port Authority in New York last December was found guilty of federal terrorism charges. The bomber, Akayed Ullah, a Bangladeshi immigrant, was seriously burned in the explosion, but only caused minor injuries to innocent people nearby. Ullah told investigators interrogating him that he attempted the attack in the name of ISIS. He tried to backtrack from his original claim, saying he did it because he was angry at Donald Trump, who he sees as a threat to the Middle East. He is facing a possible penalty of life imprisonment at his sentencing, slated to take place on April 5th.

Judge Blocks Keystone Pipeline- Soon after taking office, President Trump signed a permit allowing the Keystone XL pipeline, which extends from Canada to Texas. On Thursday, federal judge Brian Morris overturned the permit, saying the justification used by the Trump administration to grant permission for the 1,179-mile pipeline did not take numerous relevant and crucial factors into account. The ruling was praised by environmental groups who contend that the pipeline is detrimental to the climate, and by Native Americans who have maintained that it adversely affects their natural resources. The decision makes the future of the Keystone XL pipeline once again uncertain. Groups on each side of the debate have been contesting each other’s claims going back to President Obama’s administration.

WH Bans CNN Reporter- The White House announced that the press pass for CNN’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta would be revoked, following a heated spat with President Trump during his press conference on Wednesday. The White House justified the move by arguing that Acosta had hit an intern attempting to take away the microphone from him during his spat with Trump. Acosta, a reporter who has made a name for himself by often quarreling with officials in the Trump administration, is the first reporter in modern history to have his “hard pass” withdrawn. The White House Correspondents Association slammed the move to revoke Acosta’s press pass, and urged the White House to “immediately reverse this weak and misguided action.”

California Wildfires- A pair of massive wildfires, one in northern California, the other in southern California, have torched over 30,000 acres combined. The Camp Fire, burning north of Sacramento, is being fought with over 2,200 firefighters, has burned several thousand building, is threatening an additional 15,000, and has forced thousands to flee their homes. The Hill Fire, burning in southern California, has burned through 15 square miles, it’s expansion being aided by high winds. No reports of deaths or injuries have been confirmed yet.

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