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Actor Attacked In Chicago Hate Crime

'Empire' star Jussie Smollett attacked in possible hate crime. NY Daily News: "“Empire” star Jussie Smollett says he was was the victim of a possible hate crime Tuesday in Chicago after he was targeted by two attackers who hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him and tied a rope around his neck Smollett, 36, was walking in the city early Tuesday in the 300 block of E. North Water Street, near the popular Navy Pier, when he was approached by his attackers, who gained his attention by shouting the hateful words in his direction. The star plays a gay character on the Fox hit TV show that shoots in the Windy City, and revealed in 2015 that he, too, identifies as a gay man. The incident is being investigated by the Chicago Police Department as a possible hate crime, chief spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. Smollett’s attackers beat up the actor, poured an unknown chemical substance on him and wrapped a rope around his neck before fleeing the scene, police said. Smollett, who had touched down in Chicago just prior to the incident and was reportedly on his way to a Subway restaurant, took himself to Northwestern Hospital, and is in good condition. In a follow-up interview with detectives, the actor also told police that the suspects yelled, 'This is MAGA country' as they attacked him, Gugliemi confirmed to The News."

Trump Starts Returning Asylum Seekers To Mexico

Trump administration begins returning asylum seekers to Mexico. NBC: "The Trump administration began Tuesday its new policy of sending migrants seeking asylum back to Mexico, with the return of a Central American man over the border to Tijuana, a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson confirmed. The migrant, a Honduran man, was sent back over the border under the Trump administration’s new policy requiring some asylum seekers to remain in Mexico instead of the U.S. while their immigration cases play out. The administration announced the new policy last week, saying it was planning to begin turning asylum-seekers at the San Ysidro Port of Entry back across the border to Tijuana to await future immigration hearings, which will take place in San Diego Thousands of Central American migrants are already waiting in Tijuana, many living in shelters and in poor conditions. The asylum-seeker taken to Mexico on Tuesday was identified as Carlos Catarlo Gomez by a source with Mexico's National Immigration Institute in Baja California, Mexico, who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity."

The Future Of Medicare For All

Majority favor 'Medicare-for-all,' but with a catch. CNN: "Most Americans want a version of Medicare for everyone, which is good news for presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris and other Democrats who support "Medicare-for-all," a national health care proposal in which people would get their insurance from a single government plan. But there is an enormous catch: Not all Medicare expansion plans are the same and there is more support for some than for others.
Harris spoke in Iowa on Monday about embracing Medicare-for-all, even though in most instances it means eliminating private insurance. When pressed by CNN's Jake Tapper on whether that means eliminating private insurance, the senator from California answered affirmatively, saying she would be OK with cutting insurers out of the mix. That could end up being a sticking point for a lot of Americans. While a majority of Americans strongly or somewhat favored Medicare-for-all (56%) when they were asked about it in a Kaiser Family Foundation poll from January, significantly more (74%) favored creating a national government-administered health plan similar to Medicare that allows people to keep the coverage they have if they prefer it. Nearly half of Republicans (47%) are in favor of creating a national government-administered health plan if it allows people to keep their coverage, compared with only 23% of Republicans who favor Medicare-for-all as it is, a form of single-payer health insurance. A little over half (53%) of independents favor Medicare-for-all. In fact, after being told that a Medicare-for-all plan may eliminate all private health insurance companies, only 37% of all Americans still favored the proposal and 58% opposed it, according to the Kaiser poll."

EPA Poised To Deregulate Carcinogens In Water

Trump EPA won't limit 2 toxic chemicals in drinking water. Politico: "The Trump administration will not set a drinking water limit for two toxic chemicals that are contaminating millions of Americans' tap water, two sources familiar with the forthcoming decision told POLITICO. The expected move is yet another sign of the administration's reluctance to aggressively deal with the chemicals, which have been used for decades in products such as Teflon-coated cookware and military firefighting foam and are present in the bloodstreams of an estimated 98 percent of Americans. And it comes less than a year after the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency faced criticism for delaying publication of a health study on the chemicals, which a White House aide had warned could trigger a "public relations nightmare." EPA's decision means the chemicals will remain unregulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, according to sources familiar with a still-unreleased draft plan that acting administrator Andrew Wheeler signed off on in late December. That means utilities will face no federal requirements for testing for and removing the chemicals from drinking water supplies, although several states have pursued or are pursuing their own limits. The decision could complicate Wheeler's confirmation to lead the agency on a full-time basis. Both Republicans and Democrats have pressed EPA to do more to keep the chemicals out of drinking water and raised alarms about past political interference from the administration. The chemicals, known as PFOA and PFOS, have been linked to kidney and testicular cancer, hypertension and other ailments. Major chemical companies like 3M as well as the Defense Department would face billions of dollars in liability from aggressive efforts to regulate and clean up the chemical, which has contaminated groundwater near hundreds of military bases and chemical plants."

DHS Chief Refuses To Testify

House Homeland Security chair: 'Unacceptable' that Nielsen won't testify next week. The Hill: "House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) criticized Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Tuesday for declining to testify before the panel. Thompson wrote to Nielsen, indicating she had refused to appear before the committee on Feb. 6 to discuss border security. Thompson called her decision "unreasonable and unacceptable. Your attempt to use the President’s recent shutdown as an excuse not to testify before Congress prior to the impending shutdown is outrageous,' he wrote. 'As Secretary of Homeland Security, you should be prepared to testify on border security, the very issue that caused the recent shutdown, at any time and certainly prior to the potential February 15 lapse in appropriations.' The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill about Nielsen's refusal to testify, or whether she would appear at another date. Nielsen has echoed President Trump's calls for increased security along the southern border, including a wall. Trump's demand for $5.7 billion to build a border wall was at the center of a stalemate over the partial government shutdown that lasted 35 days."

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