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“Russians want her back and they need to create a situation where they can create a swap, and Mr.  Whelan is that person it seems.”

Michael Morrell, Fmr. CIA Deputy Director, as American Michael Whelan (48), an ex-Marine & Michigan native, was formally charged with espionage in Russia and faces up to 20 years in prison. Whelan's family says he was in Moscow for a wedding. His arrest follows the U.S. imprisonment of the confessed Kremlin agent Maria Butina.
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“This house will truly be the people’s house.”

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on being elected House Speaker for the second time. She remains the only woman to hold the role. The now Democratic-controlled House says the first order of business is to end the 14-day, partial gov’t shutdown and voted Thursday evening approving a bill to fund the gov’t, but President Trump says it’s a nonstarter without border wall funding.
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“This has led to a growing sense of uncertainty, distrust and vulnerability among the faithful.”

Pope Francis in a lengthy 8-page letter to U.S. bishops. He went on to say that "the Church's credibility has been seriously undercut" by the recent child sexual abuse crisis. The letter comes as bishops meet in Illinois for a Pope-requested spiritual retreat. Since August, 50 U.S. dioceses have released 1K clergy names accused of misconduct.
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“exercise increased caution… due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”

U.S. State Department's warning for Americans planning to visit China while maintaining its "Level 2" travel advisory ("Level 4" = "do not travel"). U.S. officials warn of "exit bans" preventing U.S. citizens from leaving China. It is the latest in the ratcheting up of tensions between the two countries ahead of a March 1st trade deal deadline.
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“In the future, the tree that decorated your house over the festive period could be turned into paint to decorate your house once again.”

Cynthia Kartey, University of Sheffield Ph.D. student, on new research that finds pine needles from Christmas trees can be chemically broken down to highly-valued compounds that can be used in paint, household cleaners & even mouthwash. An est. 25-30M real Christmas trees are used & discarded in the U.S. each year.
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