National News

5 things for January 18: Government shutdown, laundry pod challenge, Olympics

Posted January 18, 2018 6:11 a.m. EST

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1. Government shutdown

Will there be a government shutdown? GOP leaders say it's not going to happen and plan a vote on yet another short-term spending bill today to keep the lights on for a few more weeks. But Democrats won't vote for that without a DACA deal, so the GOP will have to get this done with just Republican votes. But that's no guarantee either. Conservative House members don't want to kick the can down the road anymore. They feel these short-term spending fixes are hurting the military, so they may vote no, too.

If a shutdown happens -- the deadline is midnight Friday -- political observers believe Republicans will ultimately be blamed because, hey, they're running the show in DC now. Here's what to expect if the government does shut down.

2. Russia investigation

Steve Bannon has struck a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller's team and will be interviewed by prosecutors instead of testifying before the grand jury, two people familiar with the process told CNN. He is expected to cooperate with the special counsel, the sources said. The sources did not say when the interview will take place or if the subpoena would be withdrawn. Bannon, the former White House chief strategist for President Donald Trump, is expected to talk openly to Mueller's team. Bannon's attorney told the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that Bannon would answer questions when he goes to the special counsel because executive privilege would not apply, according to one of the sources.

3. Immigration

Haitians will be barred from getting temporary agricultural and seasonal visas. The Department of Homeland Security is expected to kick Haiti off a list of countries eligible for the temporary permits because of "high levels of fraud and abuse and a high rate of overstaying" when the visas end. This raises eyebrows because it comes just a week after President Trump made disparaging comments about Haitian and African immigrants. And it comes after the administration's decision to end Temporary Protected Status for 60,000 Haitians living here since the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake. Belize and Samoa are also being removed from the visa program.

4. Laundry pod challenge

It's just a dumb idea. Teens, in videos posted to social media, bite into those brightly colored laundry detergent pods, full of toxic ingredients. It's called the laundry pod challenge, and it goes as badly as you'd think. People cough, gag and even foam at the mouth after chewing on the pods. In the first two weeks of the year, poison control centers have received 39 calls about it -- the same number as in all of 2016. To stop the growing and potentially deadly fad, companies like Tide put out messages on social media telling teens to use pods for laundry -- only. Tide and other companies have also been asked to stop making the pods look so appealing.

5. Winter Olympics

North and South Korean athletes will march together under a unified flag next month at the Winter Olympics. That's a huge diplomatic breakthrough after days of talks between the two rival nations and exactly what the spirit of the Olympics is all about. But wait, there's more. A women's ice hockey team comprised of athletes from the North and South will also compete in the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The countries' skiers will train together, and performers will hold a joint cultural event. The International Olympics Committee needs OK all of this, though.