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News Brief: Week of Jan. 13-19


Shutdown drags on

As attempts at bipartisan compromise proved futile, frustration among both federal government workers and politicians mounted during the fifth week of a record 30-day long government shutdown.

Trying to restore some normality to government functions, President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered 50,000 workers, including 36,000 IRS employees, back to work without immediate pay. More than 300,000 federal workers remained furloughed.

Furloughed workers were officially guaranteed back pay on Wednesday, when Trump signed legislation ensuring they receive their paychecks soon after the shutdown has concluded.

On Saturday, Trump offered to exchange temporary three-year protection for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients in return for $5.7 billion to begin construction on a southern border wall. The attempt at compromise was quickly shot down by Democratic leaders, who called the proposal a “non-starter.”

Barr questioned by Senate

Trump’s nominee for attorney general, William Barr, stood before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, fielding questions on topics ranging from Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference to legalizing marijuana on a federal level.

Barr, a Republican who served as attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration from 1991 to 1993, said he believed Mueller was handling the investigation properly. In response to the marijuana issue, he said he would not use federal resources to go after companies complying with state law.

Barr also declared China, not Russia, as America’s greatest rival and said he could conceive of instances where reporters are held in contempt of court and jailed.

The Republican-majority Senate is expected to vote on Barr’s confirmation in the coming weeks.

Netflix raises subscription prices

Tens of millions of American subscribers to the popular video streaming service Netflix will soon see their monthly rate go up.

As part of an effort to increase cash flow and invest in new original programming projects, Netflix announced on Tuesday its monthly plans will rise between $1-2 per month. New subscribers will see higher prices immediately, while current customers will see the increase implemented over the next several months.

Netflix stock rose nearly 10 percent in 24 hours in response to the news but lagged throughout the rest of the week.


Schools closing in Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City Public Schools will close at least 14 schools as part of a district-wide restructuring plan, Superintendent Sean McDaniels announced in an interview with The Oklahoman Friday. The closed schools will be renovated to house youth organizations, counseling centers and health clinics.

Closing the schools will also allow the district to put more money toward hiring teachers and implementing after-school programs, according to McDaniels. Further details of the plan, including which schools may close, will be presented at Northeast Academy, 3100 N. Kelly, on Tuesday evening at 5:30 p.m.

MAPS 4 ideas proposed

The next phase of Oklahoma City’s popular public works program could focus less on construction and more on tackling social issues.

During his State of the City address at the Cox Convention Center on Thursday night, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt proposed using money generated from a potential MAPS 4 to create an endowment, which would fund homeless shelters and mental health centers.

Holt said he has received at least 1,000 MAPS 4 ideas since October, when the city started its “Dream Big” campaign encouraging residents to submit their unique ideas for the program.

A vote on MAPS 4 could come as soon as next winter.


Car break-ins affect students

Due to a recent string of car break-ins, campus police are reminding students to lock their vehicles and secure their valuables.

The majority of items have been taken from unlocked cars in the Phase 6 parking lot, according to a message sent in student announcements. Those who notice suspicious activity are encouraged to call Campus Police at (405) 425-5500.

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