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7 things to know now: Comey to testify; Clinton’s return; March Madness brackets blown

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. Comey to testify: FBI Director James Comey will testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday morning as hearings into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election get underway in Washington. Comey is expected to be asked at the public hearing about any investigations of the new administration and about President Donald Trump’s statement that his campaign was wiretapped. Also scheduled to testify is Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency.

2. Gorsuch hearings: Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee for the vacant Supreme Court seat, begins confirmation hearings Monday. Gorsuch, a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, would fill the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia who died in February 2016. Gorsuch is likely to face several days of hearings.

3. Out of the Woods: Hillary Clinton told a group on Friday that she was “ready to come out of the woods,” and return to the American political scene. Clinton joke about being spotted while taking walks in the woods around her New York home, and told people gathered at a St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Scranton, Pa., "I'm like a lot of my friends right now; I have a hard time watching the news.” Clinton urged those there to get involved in the political process. "I do not believe that we can let political divides harden into personal divides. And we can't just ignore or turn a cold shoulder to someone because they disagree with us politically," she said.

4. Breslin dies: Columnist and author Jimmy Breslin died Sunday in New York. Breslin, who first became famous for a column about the man who dug the grave for President John F. Kennedy, was 88. He spent his career in New York City, and won a Pulitzer Prize for his columns about the famous, the infamous and, in most cases, the everyday man. 

5. Brackets blown: Millions of people across the country let out a groan at the same time Saturday, when their NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket was blown up as returning champion Villanova lost to Wisconsin. There were other upsets – Duke lost to South Carolina and Michigan defeated Louisville. There was a blown call that likely sent Northwestern home early. After it was all over, the field was cut down to the “Sweet 16.” The tournament continues Thursday.  

And one more

Spring arrived Monday morning at 6:28 a.m. E.T. with the vernal equinox – the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator and heads toward the Tropic of Cancer. There’s more daylight, and, according to forecaster, it will be a warm spring.

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The Latest News Headlines

  • In a high stakes game of legislative chicken, the U.S. Senate on Friday night blocked a House-passed bill to fund operations of the federal government for the next four weeks, as most Democrats joined with a handful of Republicans to filibuster the spending measure, demanding faster action on immigration matters, driving the Congress toward the first federal government shutdown since 2013. The vote was 50 to 49 – 60 votes were needed. Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump had met with Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer at the White House – but while they seemed to make some progress, there was no final deal. And Mr. Trump made clear who was to blame. Not looking good for our great Military or Safety & Security on the very dangerous Southern Border. Dems want a Shutdown in order to help diminish the great success of the Tax Cuts, and what they are doing for our booming economy. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2018 A handful of members from both parties broke with their leaders on the Senate vote, which would have shut off debate on the four week spending measure approved on Thursday by the House. Mainly because of the impasse over DACA and immigration, several Republicans refused to join with the President, as they voted against the plan. “I believe no one wants the government to shut down,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “I also believe that we are inside the ten yard line on finding solutions on all issues.” Other Republican “no” votes included Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Democrats voting to end debate included five from states which were won by President Trump: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Clare McCaskill (D-MO), and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN). For many Democrats, the biggest thing missing from a temporary budget plan was something concrete on the DACA program, to deal with close to 700,000 illegal immigrant “Dreamers” now in the United States. In the various Congressional office buildings, immigration activists and many Dreamers joined in demonstrations for their cause. Dreamers protesting right below reporters covering potential shutdown. Chanting #DreamActNow pic.twitter.com/Ad3CxCzo0P — Rebecca Bainer (@rebbainer) January 19, 2018 But Republicans argued that backers of DACA relief were not interested in doing enough to stop people from coming illegally in the future. “We want to be able to resolve this, but it has to be resolved with border security attached to it,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK). “There’s a deal here that could be struck very quickly,” argued Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC). But signs of a late agreement did not seem to be there for Senators as the clock ticked toward midnight, a reminder that many hours had been spent in recent months on the issue, so far – to no avail. It wasn’t immediately clear how Congressional leaders would try to broker a deal. President Trump stayed at the White House Friday night instead of flying as scheduled to his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida. It’s not clear if he will go there on Saturday for a party to mark his first year in office.  
  • A woman died Friday after falling from the balcony of a room on the Jacksonville-based Carnival Elation cruise ship. The woman fell from the balcony to several decks below, Carnival said in a statement. Carnival Elation departed Jacksonville on Thursday for a four-day cruise to the Bahamas. Carnival sent the following statement to Action News Jax: .@CarnivalCruise confirms woman died today after falling from balcony aboard Jacksonville-based Carnival Elation @ActionNewsJax @WOKVNews pic.twitter.com/1anriQWt1g — Lorena Inclán (@LorenaANjax) January 19, 2018 'Early this morning a guest fell from her balcony to several decks below. The ship’s medical team responded immediately, but, unfortunately, she passed away. The incident was reported to all proper authorities and CARE Team support was offered to fellow travelers and her family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the deceased and her family. Carnival Elation departed Jacksonville Jan. 18 on a four-day cruise to the Bahamas.
  • President Donald Trump will not make a planned trip to Mar-a-Lago today because of a looming federal government shutdown, a White House official told The Palm Beach Post on Friday morning. >> Read more trending news Trump was scheduled to arrive at Palm Beach International Airport tonight for a weekend trip that included a Saturday fundraiser for his 2020 re-election campaign at Mar-a-Lago. The official who confirmed today’s travel is off did not address the president’s plans for the remainder of the weekend. Trump was planning to make the 12th Palm Beach visit of his presidency. But Congress has not reached a spending agreement to keep the federal government operating past midnight. Saturday is the one-year anniversary of Trump taking office. The Trump campaign recently announced a “special sweepstakes” in which a winner will get to attend dinner Saturday at Mar-a-Lago with Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.
  • Police in Florida arrested a 28-year-old man on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol after authorities said he attempted to order a burrito from a Bank of America after confusing it for a Taco Bell, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news Records from the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office show authorities arrested Douglas Jon Francisco, 28, on Wednesday. The manager of the Bank of America branch on Mariner Boulevard in Spring Hill, Martin Claussen, called authorities Wednesday afternoon after he said he found a blue Hyundai in the bank’s drive-up bank lane with a man who appeared to be passed out inside, WTSP reported. Claussen said he had to bang on the car window several times before Francisco awoke, according to the Tampa Bay Times. When Francisco saw the bank manager, deputies said he tried to order a burrito. >> Read more Floridoh! stories  Claussen told Francisco that he was not at a Taco Bell and Francisco drove the Hyundai to the bank’s front parking lot, according to the Times. Deputies said he was in the front parking lot, the car still idling, when authorities arrived. In an arrest report, a deputy wrote that Francisco “made several statements that were differing from reality” and denied asking Claussen for a burrito. Deputies said his responses during a field sobriety test “were slow in a way that was consistent with someone on prescription narcotics,” WTSP reported. He was given a drug test, the results of which were pending. During a search of the Hyundai, deputies said they found prescription medication that had been made out in Francisco’s name, according to the Times. Jail records show Francisco was booked into the Hernando County Detention Center around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and released Thursday afternoon on a $500 bond.
  • As much of the nation deals with a widespread flu season-- Florida is no different. The Florida Department of Health says flu activity is high statewide and continues to increase, with those increases observed in all regions.  The department says since the start of the 2017-2018 flu season, there have been 107 total outbreaks of the flu and a flu-like illness. This is more outbreaks than what's usually seen at this time in flu season.  According to the health department stats, nearly all of the outbreaks, 94%, have been in facilities that serve people a higher risk for flu complications, such as children and adults, 65 and older, like schools and healthcare facilities.  Duval and Baker counties are among those experiencing recent outbreaks.  In Duval County, the health department says a nursing and rehabilitation center reported 4 residents with a flu-like illness, which then tested positive for influenza A. Two long-term care facilities also reported a combined 15 individuals with flu-like illnesses. One group later tested positive for influenza B; the investigation into the other illness is still ongoing.  Meanwhile, in Baker County, outbreaks of a flu-like illness have been reported at a health care facility and a long-term care facility, involving a combined total of 15 people. Testing is ongoing in both cases.  With all of these recent outbreaks, the department of health says you should get a flu shot if you haven't already.  If you do get sick, it's recommended that you stay home until you're fever-free for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medication.

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