House memo states disputed dossier was key to FBI’s FISA warrant to surveil members of Team Trump

The memo shows that after dossier author and former British spy Christopher Steele was cut off from the FBI for being chatty with the media, (Fox-News photo)

WASHINGTON – A much-hyped memo that shows alleged government surveillance abuse has been released to the public and includes testimony from a high-ranking government official who says the FBI and DOJ would not have sought surveillance warrants to spy on at least one member of the Trump team without the infamous Trump dossier.

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released the memo on Friday afternoon about alleged abuses involving FISA, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, during the 2016 election.

The dossier, authored by former British spy Christopher Steele and  commissioned by Fusion GPS, was paid by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign through law firm Perkins Coie in an effort to conduct opposition research.

Please click on the link to keep up with this breaking story from Fox News.


Punxsutawney Phil Sees Shadow, Calls For Six More Weeks Of Winter


Fox News image

Punxsutawney Phil’s handlers made the announcement at sunrise Friday.

Legend has it if a furry rodent casts a shadow on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, expect six more weeks of winter-like weather. If not, expect spring-like temperatures.

In reality, Phil’s prediction is decided ahead of time by the group on Gobbler’s Knob, a tiny hill just outside of Punxsutawney. That’s about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Please click on the full story and video from KDKA of Pittsburgh

Punxsutawney Phil Sees Shadow, Calls For 6 More Weeks Of Winter

Bost comments on the State of the Union address

Washington, DC – U.S Representative Mike Bost (IL-12) released the following statement in response to President Trump’s State of the Union address to a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday.

“I appreciate President Trump using his address to highlight some of the work he and Congress are pursuing to empower America’s families and job creators.  Particularly important to Southern Illinois has been the new tax reform law that will give hardworking families more money in their pockets to spend on a child’s education, growing a small business, or saving for the years ahead. But we still have plenty of work to do, starting with fixing our broken immigration system and bringing our crumbling infrastructure into the 21st Century. I am committed to finding common ground with anyone, Republican or Democrat, to build a bright future for Southern Illinoisans.”


Murray Energy acquires an interest in Armstrong Energy

ST. CLAIRSVILLE, OHMurray Energy Corporation (“Murray Energy”) announced today that its unrestricted subsidiary, Murray Kentucky Energy, Inc., (“Murray Kentucky“), has entered into a legally binding Transaction Agreement (“Agreement”) with Armstrong Energy, Inc. (“Armstrong Energy”) and certain of its senior secured noteholders to acquire a fifty-one percent (51%) ownership interest in a new company that will own certain assets formerly held by Armstrong Energy.  The secured noteholders of Armstrong Energy will hold a forty-nine percent (49%) ownership interest in the new company.

Murray Energy Corporation logo (PRNewsFoto/Murray Energy Corporation)

“We are pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with Armstrong Energy and its secured noteholders in order to ensure that these mines continue to operate after the bankruptcy process,” said Mr. Robert E. Murray, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Murray Energy. “After this transaction is completed, Murray Kentucky and the lenders of Armstrong Energy will jointly own five (5) mines that are strategically important in the Illinois Basin. These operations will complement our existing mines in the Illinois Basin,” Mr. Murray continued.

The transaction remains subject to approval by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, which is administering Armstrong Energy’s chapter 11 bankruptcy case.  The transaction would be implemented as part of Armstrong Energy’s proposed plan of reorganization, which has the support of the Company’s secured noteholders and its Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors.

The new company will be a producer of low-chlorine, high-sulfur thermal coal, with five (5) mines in the Illinois Basin, including three (3) surface mines and two (2) operating underground mines. As of June 30, 2017, Armstrong Energy controlled over 445 million tons of proven and probable coal reserves in Western Kentucky.  The new company will also own and operate the three (3) existing coal processing plants and river dock coal handling and rail loadout facilities.  Murray Kentucky will manage these mines, along with the coal preparation and shipment facilities, after this transaction has closed.

“This transaction will provide needed stability to the coal industry in Western Kentucky,” Mr. Murray stated.  “It will also provide operational consistency to our domestic customers and greater opportunity for coal sales into the international export markets.  This is a very important transaction for our employees, the employees of Armstrong who will join us, and our lenders and customers,” concluded Mr. Murray.

Murray Energy and Murray Kentucky are being advised by legal counsel Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP, in connection with this acquisition.

Bost, Bergman Demand Changes in Marion VA Leadership

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Jack Bergman (R-MI) and Representative Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) called on U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary David Shulkin to make changes in the Human Resources department at the Marion VA Medical Center.

“Our heroes deserve the best care possible, and unqualified leadership in the HR department at Marion prevents that from happening,” said Bost. “That’s why I have appealed directly to the VA Secretary to get an HR team in place at Marion that can clean up the mess. We’ve heard stories of grossly inconsistent salaries among staff, low morale, and a lack of proper training and discipline. Serious HR changes need to be made, and fast. Our veterans deserve better than this.”

 “Effective leadership can only be achieved by assembling a qualified team with a defined objective,” said Bergman. “After months of investigations conducted by the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, it has become clear that the Marion VA Medical Center’s HR department has failed to meet its core missions. Secretary Shulkin has begun the important task of changing the culture within VA, which is why Congressman Bost and I have appealed to him directly seeking immediate change in the facility’s HR department. By putting in place a highly motivated and effectively led HR department, the Marion VA will be able to provide Veterans with the quality and timely care they have earned.”

 The full text of the letter is available here.


Hawaii emergency officials say ballistic missile threat alert was a mistake

Hawaii emergency officials confirmed Saturday that an alert warning that a ballistic missile was inbound to the island was a mistake.

Earlier Saturday, Hawaiian citizens reported receiving an emergency alert on their phone that stated: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”


Please click on this to keep up with this breaking story from Fox News.


Keith Jackson, the legendary voice of college football, dead at 89

Keith Jackson (r.), seen here in 1998 with broadcast partner Bob Griese, died Friday night at age 89 (Daily News file photo)

Keith Jackson, the voice of college football for more than a half-century, has died. The ABC Sports broadcasting legend was 89.

Jackson, forever remembered for his signature “Whoa, Nellie” call, died Friday night surrounded by his family, according to NBC Sports’ Todd Harris.

“The voice of college football and so much more has left us,” Harris wrote on Twitter Saturday morning. “Truly one of the greats in the broadcasting industry. I am grateful for my time with a true legend. Thank you for the lessons KJ.”

Please click on the link from Andy Clayton of the New York Daily News.

Bost, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Perdue Discuss Veterans’ Employment

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mike Bost (IL-12) met with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to discuss efforts to transition military veterans into the agricultural workforce. Bost, a member of both the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the House Committee on Agriculture, was accompanied by a bipartisan group for the Capitol Hill meeting.

Rep. Bost with Secretary Perdue (photo provided)

“There’s no more dedicated workforce in the entire world than our returning military men and women,” said Bost. “We’ve got a huge shortfall in the agricultural workforce, and we have veterans leaving military service looking for employment. I discussed with Secretary Perdue ways to kill two birds with one stone, offering our heroes a new career path while helping farmers and ranchers fill jobs and expand their operations. I think we’re on the same page here and I look forward to turning these discussions into further legislative action.”


According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), nearly 45 percent of veterans come from rural America.  Over the next 20 years, it is projected that our nation will need 700,000 new agricultural workers.

Last year, Rep. Bost introduced H.R. 4339, the Veterans’ Agricultural Apprenticeship Act, which instructs the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to work with state departments of agriculture to identify farmers and ranchers eligible for a direct loan to train apprentice veterans in their industry.  Veterans would receive direct, on-the-job training and, in return, farmers and ranchers would get help with their operations with little cost to them.  The loan would be paid back to the USDA after the harvest season.

Walmart to Raise U.S. Wages, Provide One-Time Bonus and Expand Hourly Maternity and Parental Leave

More than 1 million associates benefit from combined wage and benefit changes

BENTONVILLE, Ark. –  – Today, Walmart announced plans to increase the starting wage rate for all hourly associates in the U.S. to $11, expand maternity and parental leave benefits and provide a one-time cash bonus for eligible associates of up to $1,000. The company is also creating a new benefit to assist associates with adoption expenses. The combined wage and benefit changes will benefit the company’s more than one million U.S. hourly associates.

“Today, we are building on investments we’ve been making in associates, in their wages and skills development,” said Doug McMillon, Walmart president and CEO. “It’s our people who make the difference and we appreciate how they work hard to make every day easier for busy families.”

He added, “We are early in the stages of assessing the opportunities tax reform creates for us to invest in our customers and associates and to further strengthen our business, all of which should benefit our shareholders. However, some guiding themes are clear and consistent with how we’ve been investing — lower prices for customers, better wages and training for associates and investments in the future of our company, including in technology. Tax reform gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S.”

This increase in wages to associates will take effect in February and will be approximately $300 million incremental to what was already included in next fiscal year’s plan. The one-time bonus represents an additional payment to associates of approximately $400 million in the current fiscal year, which ends Jan. 31, 2018.

While the new law will create some financial benefit for the company, Walmart is early in the process of assessing potential additional investments. That assessment will be done not only through the lens of associates, customers and shareholders, but also within Walmart’s financial framework of strong, efficient growth, consistent operating discipline and strategic capital allocation. Further details will be shared, as appropriate, when the company releases quarterly results Feb. 20, 2018.

Associates will hear more from their managers in the coming days about details.

But, broadly, associates in the U.S. will share in tax savings through:

  • A one-time bonus benefiting all eligible full and part-time hourly associates in the U.S. The amount of the bonus will be based on length of service, with associates with at least 20 years qualifying for $1,000. A discrete one-time charge will be taken in the fourth quarter of the current year to account for the bonus; qualification will be determined before the end of the month and payments will be paid as quickly as practical thereafter.
  • An increase in Walmart’s starting wage rate to $11 an hour, effective in the Feb. 17, 2018, pay cycle. The change is in addition to wage increases already planned for many U.S. markets in the coming fiscal year. The increase applies to all hourly associates in the U.S., including stores, Sam’s Clubs, eCommerce, logistics and Home Office.
  • An expanded parental and maternity leave policy, providing full-time hourly associates in the U.S. with 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave. Salaried associates will also receive six weeks of paid parental leave.
  • Walmart will provide financial assistance to associates adopting a child. The adoption benefit, available to both full-time hourly and salaried associates, will total $5,000 per child and may be used for expenses such as adoption agency fees, translation fees and legal or court costs.

The pundits swoon over Oprah for 2020 – but running for president is brutal

Oprah Winfrey suddenly has the best of all worlds—a flood of gushing praise about the possibility of running for president without actually having to do it.

Business Insider photo.

And if she does do it, well, she’ll quickly learn that being an entertainment icon is far easier than taking positions on tough issues and dealing with a tsunami of political attacks.

What, for instance, is Oprah’s position on trade with China? Chain migration? Arming Syrian rebels? Financing infrastructure projects? It’s one thing to be a hugely successful talk show host and a pal of Barack Obama, and another to take on the world’s problems in a hyper-polarized atmosphere.

Please click on the link for the full story and video from Howard Kurtz of Fox News.





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