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Mark J. Terrill 

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer yells during the first half of the team's Rose Bowl NCAA college football game against Washington on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Congress leaders invited to White House for border briefing

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday invited congressional leaders to a White House briefing on border security as the partial government shutdown dragged on over funding for a border wall, with Trump tweeting, "Let's make a deal?"

The briefing will happen at 3 p.m. today, the day before the Democrats take control of the House, but the exact agenda wasn't immediately clear, according to a person with knowledge of the briefing who was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The White House said the briefing would be provided by senior Department of Homeland Security officials.

Republican leaders will be attending. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as the top incoming House Republicans, Kevin McCarthy of California and Steve Scalise of Louisiana, are planning to be at the briefing, according to aides. Retiring Speaker Paul Ryan will not.

Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to take over as House speaker, and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer will also be in attendance.

Pelosi said Democrats would take action to "end the Trump Shutdown" by passing legislation Thursday to reopen government.

"We are giving the Republicans the opportunity to take yes for an answer," Pelosi wrote In a letter to colleagues late Tuesday. "Senate Republicans have already supported this legislation, and if they reject it now, they will be fully complicit in chaos and destruction of the President's third shutdown of his term."

The White House invitation comes after House Democrats released their plan to re-open the government without approving money for a border wall — unveiling two bills to fund shuttered government agencies and put hundreds of thousands of federal workers back on the job. They planned to pass them as soon as the new Congress convened Thursday.

Trump spent the weekend saying that Democrats should return to Washington to negotiate, firing off Twitter taunts. He then revised his aides' comments to state that he still wants to build a border wall. And last week, he blamed House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi for the impasse that led to the shutdown.

On Tuesday morning, after tweeting a New Year's message to "EVERYONE INCLUDING THE HATERS AND THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA," Trump tweeted, "The Democrats, much as I suspected, have allocated no money for a new Wall. So imaginative! The problem is, without a Wall there can be no real Border Security."

But he seemed to shift tactics later in the day, appealing to Pelosi, who is expected to take over as speaker when the new Congress convenes.

"Border Security and the Wall 'thing' and Shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker! Let's make a deal?" he tweeted.

Whether the Republican-led Senate, under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, would consider the Democratic bills — or if Trump would sign either into law — was unclear. McConnell spokesman Donald Stewart said Senate Republicans would not take action without Trump's backing.

"It's simple: The Senate is not going to send something to the president that he won't sign," Stewart said.

Even if only symbolic, the passage of the bills in the House would put fresh pressure on the president. At the same time, administration officials said Trump was in no rush for a resolution to the impasse.

Trump believes he has public opinion on his side and, at very least, his base of supporters behind him, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The Democratic package to end the shutdown would include one bill to temporarily fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels — with $1.3 billion for border security, far less than the $5 billion Trump has said he wants for the wall — through Feb. 8 as talks continued.

It would include another measure to fund the departments of Agriculture, Interior, Housing and Urban Development and others closed by the partial shutdown, providing money through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Democrats under Pelosi were all but certain to swiftly approve the package in two separate votes Thursday.

The White House did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the House proposal. Republican senators left for the holidays refusing to vote on any bills until all sides, including Trump, were in agreement. The lawmakers were frustrated that Trump had dismissed their earlier legislation.

The president has not said he would veto the Democratic legislation if the bills were to land on his desk. But a prolonged crisis could hobble House Democrats' ability to proceed with their agenda, which included investigations of the president and oversight of his administration, including Russian interference in the election.

At least one Republican, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, encouraged Trump to use the budget impasse as an opportunity to address issues beyond the border wall. But a previous attempt to reach a compromise that addressed the status of "Dreamers" — young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children — broke down last year as a result of escalating White House demands. Graham said Trump was "open minded" about his proposal

The partial government shutdown began Dec. 22 after Trump bowed to conservative demands that he fight to make good on his vow and secure funding for the wall before Republicans lose control of the House on Wednesday. Democrats have remained committed to blocking any funding for the wall.

With neither side engaging in substantive negotiation, the effects of the partial shutdown spread and extended into the new year.

Need to get out of the house? Cabin Fever Day has free family-friendly activities on Saturday

TWIN FALLS — Has the cold weather got you feeling irritable, listless and confined? It’s time to break the fever.

Twin Falls Parks and Recreation Department’s annual Cabin Fever Day kicks off this Saturday at eight different locations around the city.

“It’s just to get people out of the house and to explore what Twin Falls has to offer,” Recreation Supervisor Stacy McClintock said.

There are a few new things to do at this year’s event, but overall, the lineup is significantly smaller than it’s been in years past. McClintock said that a lot of the businesses chose not to participate this year, though she didn’t know of any particular reason why that was the case.

Cabin Fever Day typically gets between 2,000 and 3,000 participants in Twin Falls. Residents can pick up a map of this year’s things to do at Twin Falls Parks and Recreation, the Twin Falls Public Library, Twin Falls City Pool, City Hall, the Twin Falls Visitor Center, Bowladrome or First Federal. The map has also been posted on the Parks and Recreation department’s Cabin Fever event page.

Here’s where you and your family can go this Saturday:

1. City Pool, 756 Locust St. N.

The city pool will have free open swim from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., the pool will also have “The Tower.”

“It’s like a climbing apparatus for the swimming pool,” McClintock said.

The structure features a slide, rope climbing and a “cliff.”

Also at the city pool, AWOL Adventure Sports will offer a Discover Scuba experience for anyone 10 years and older. The experience includes 20 to 30 minutes of scuba diving and is available first-come, first-served between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. A swimsuit is required, but other equipment will be provided.

2. Twin Falls Public Library, 201 Fourth Ave. E.

Join in a “Storywalk” at the Twin Falls Public Library, leading through City Park with a story and a scavenger hunt. Afterward, participants can enjoy hot chocolate and cider. The event takes place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. with a Saturday movie matinee of the film “Smallfoot” starting at 3 p.m.

3. Magic Valley Bow Hunters, 691 U.S. 30, Filer

It’s been a few years since the Magic Valley Bowhunters participated, but residents on Saturday can visit the group’s range near Filer to get an introduction to archery. Equipment will be provided. Instruction takes place between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

4. Wakefield Music Academy, 684 Blue Lakes Blvd. N., Suite A

The Wakefield Music Academy is offering free music lessons for anyone 16 months and older. This will include pre-piano classes for children 16 months to 5 years; piano classes for children 6 years and older; ukulele and guitar lessons for ages 8 and older; and violin and cello lessons for children 4 and older. The academy will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

5. Magic Valley YMCA, 1751 Elizabeth Blvd.

The Magic Valley YMCA has a full day of fun planned for the whole family. First, a scavenger hunt takes place from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., followed by creative crafts from 11 a.m. to noon, CEO Randy Wastradowki said. An open play time for youth tennis will take place from noon to 1 p.m.

At 1 p.m. is family yoga, a new event this year.

“It’s probably not going to be the same as an adult class,” Wastradowski said. “It’ll be great for the kids.”

Adults must be present with their children.

Archery lessons will take place from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. outdoors. Visitors can also swim in the YMCA pool from noon to 3:45 p.m. Bring your own swimsuit and a towel.

“We wanted to provide activities throughout the day because we know a lot of people go place to place,” Wastradowski said.

6. The Herrett Center, College of Southern Idaho, 315 Falls Ave.

The Herrett Center planetarium will be showing trailers of some of its upcoming shows. Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., visitors may also be able to look at the sun and other planets through the center’s 24-inch solar telescope outdoors (weather permitting). Also between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. is a reptile meet and greet, where staff will teach the public about reptile’s lifespan and care.

“Everybody wants to go to Petsmart and get the cutest thing they find in the store,” Herrett Center store clerk Jackie Reeve said.

But people don’t always realize how long reptiles can live and what kind of care they require.

7. Bowladrome, 220 Eastland Drive

Take the family down to the Bowladrome and enjoy one free game of bowling, plus shoe rentals, for up to eight people per lane. The offer lasts between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and there are 26 lanes available. Shoe sizes range from a kids size 7 to a womens size 11 and mens size 15.

8. Success Martial Arts, 1300 Kimberly Road

All ages are welcome to attend one of two sessions of “Noodle Samurai” at Success Martial Arts. The first session takes place from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., with the second session from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Edited Jan. 2 with corrected information on the Discover Scuba program.

Spacecraft opens new year with flyby on solar system's edge

LAUREL, Md. — NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft pulled off the most distant exploration of another world Tuesday, skimming past a tiny, icy object 4 billion miles from Earth that looks to be shaped like a bowling pin.

Flight controllers in Maryland declared success 10 hours after the high-risk, middle-of-the-night encounter at the mysterious body known as Ultima Thule on the frozen fringes of our solar system, an astounding 1 billion miles beyond Pluto.

“I don’t know about all of you, but I’m really liking this 2019 thing so far,” lead scientist Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute said to applause. “I’m here to tell you that last night, overnight, the United States spacecraft New Horizons conducted the farthest exploration in the history of humankind, and did so spectacularly.”

The close approach came a half-hour into the new year, and 3 ½ years after New Horizons’ unprecedented swing past Pluto.

For Ultima Thule — which wasn’t even known when New Horizons departed Earth in 2006 — the endeavor was more difficult. The spacecraft zoomed within 2,200 miles of it, more than three times closer than the Pluto flyby.

Operating on autopilot, New Horizons was out of radio contact with controllers at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory from late Monday afternoon until late Tuesday morning. Scientists wanted the spacecraft staring down Ultima Thule and collecting data, not turning toward Earth to phone home.

Mission operations manager Alice Bowman said she was more nervous this time than she was with Pluto in 2015 because of the challenges and distance, so vast that messages take more than six hours, one way, to cross the 4 billion miles. When a solid radio link finally was acquired and team members reported that their spacecraft systems were green, or good, she declared with relief: “We have a healthy spacecraft.” Later, she added to more applause: “We did it again.”

Cheers erupted in the control center and in a nearby auditorium, where hundreds more — still weary from the double countdowns on New Year’s Eve — gathered to await word. Scientists and other team members embraced and shared high-fives, while the spillover auditorium crowd gave a standing ovation.

Stern, Bowman and other key players soon joined their friends in the auditorium, where the celebration continued and a news conference took place. The speakers took delight in showing off the latest picture of Ultima Thule, taken just several hundred-thousand miles before the 12:33 a.m. close approach.

“Ultima Thule is finally revealing its secrets to us,” said project scientist Hal Weaver of Johns Hopkins.

Based on the early, rudimentary images, Ultima Thule is highly elongated — about 20 miles by 10 miles. It’s also spinning end over end, although scientists don’t yet know how fast.

As for its shape, scientists say there are two possibilities.

Ultima Thule is either one object with two connected lobes, sort of like a spinning bowling pin or peanut still in the shell, or two objects orbiting surprisingly close to one another. A single body is more likely, they noted. An answer should be forthcoming Wednesday, once better, closer pictures arrive.

By week’s end, “Ultima Thule is going to be a completely different world, compared to what we’re seeing now,” Weaver noted.

Still, the best color close-ups won’t be available until February. Those images should reveal whether Ultima Thule has any rings or moons, or craters on its dark, reddish surface. Altogether, it will take nearly two years for all of New Horizons’ data to reach Earth.

The observations should help scientists ascertain how deep-freeze objects like Ultima Thule formed, along with the rest of the solar system, 4.5 billion years ago.

As a preserved relic from that original time, Ultima Thule also promises to shed light on the so-called Kuiper Belt, or Twilight Zone, in which hundreds of thousands of objects reside well beyond Neptune.

“This mission’s always been about delayed gratification,” Stern reminded reporters. He noted it took 12 years to sell the project, five years to build it and nine years to reach the first target, Pluto.

Its mission now totaling $800 million, the baby grand piano-sized New Horizons will keep hurtling toward the edge of the solar system, observing Kuiper Belt Objects, or KBOs, from afar, and taking cosmic particle measurements. Although NASA’s Voyagers crossed the Kuiper Belt on their way to true interstellar space, their 1970s-era instruments were not nearly as sophisticated as those on New Horizons, Weaver noted, and the twin spacecraft did not pass near any objects known at the time.

The New Horizons team is already pushing for another flyby in the 2020s, while the nuclear power and other spacecraft systems are still good.

Bowman takes comfort and pleasure in knowing that long after New Horizons stops working, it “will keep going on and on.”

“There’s a bit of all of us on that spacecraft,” she said, “and it will continue after we’re long gone here on Earth.”

See who’s been hired and promoted at the Twin Falls Police Department

TWIN FALLS — The Twin Falls Police Department and City Council are kicking off the New Year with the formal swearing-in of five new officers.

The city on Wednesday will recognized the new officers who will be attending the Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training Basic Patrol Academy, Session No. 194, beginning Monday. Additionally, the police department will formally recognize four employees who have been promoted to corporal through a competitive process.

Here’s a bit about each of the new officers:

Ajbin Bilajack

  • was hired as a full-time police officer Oct. 28. He was born in Hanover, Germany, and immigrated from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Boise in 1998. He previously worked in maximum security at the Idaho Department of Corrections.

Cody Cunningham

  • was hired as a full-time police officer Nov. 13. He is a Twin Falls native and graduate of Canyon Ridge High School. Cunningham served in the U.S. Marine Corps between 2014 and 2018 and is pursuing a bachelor’s of science in psychology.

Jacob Lee

  • was hired as a full-time police officer Oct. 29. He was born in Twin Falls and grew up in Meridian. Lee has an associate degree in liberal arts and is working on a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

Jonathan Shobe

  • was hired as a full-time police officer Oct. 29. He was born in Twin Falls and graduated from Jerome High School. He previously worked as a physical therapy aide.

Curtis Wheeler

  • was hired Oct. 29 as a full-time officer. He was born in California and graduated from high school in Hawaii. He spent four years in the Marine Corps in Twentynine Palms, Calif. Before coming to the Twin Falls Police Department, he owned a fugitive recovery business in Colorado Springs, Colo.

These four officers were promoted to corporal in December:

Adam Dixon

  • has been with the Twin Falls Police Department since 2009, serving as a patrol officer, field training officer and bomb squad technician assistant. He received his POST intermediate certification in 2013 and his advanced certification in 2017.

Steven Gassert

  • has been with the Twin Falls Police Department since 2002, when he joined the department’s Explorer Program. He was hired as a full-time officer in 2008, left the department in 2015 and returned the following year. He has been a patrol officer, field training officer and school resource officer. Gassert is a POST-certified instructor and teaches law enforcement at the College of Southern Idaho. He received his POST intermediate certification in 2014.

Jayson Mickelson

  • joined the Twin Falls Police Department as a communications specialist in April 2010. He was hired as a full-time police officer later that year. He previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2005 to 2009 and attained the rank of sergeant. With the Twin Falls Police Department, he has been a patrol officer, field training officer, school resource officer and a member of the Special Weapons and Tactics team. He graduated from POST Basic Academy and received his POST intermediate certification in 2017.

Dave Weigt

  • started his career with the Twin Falls Police Department in 1998 as a full-time officer. He had attended POST Basic Academy in 1997. Weigt has been a patrol officer, field training officer, SWAT team member, firearms instructor, GLOCK armorer, traffic and motor officer and school resource officer. He received his POST intermediate certification in 2005, his advanced certification in 2017 and his master certification also in 2017.

Editor's Note: This story was edited Jan. 8 with the correct spelling of Dave Weigt's last name. The Times-News regrets the error. 

If you do one thing

If you do one thing: The Wine Down Wednesday event will feature music by Eric May from 6 to 8 p.m. at Twin Falls Brickhouse, 516 Hansen St. S.

Colorado man charged with murder in missing fiancee's death

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado man was charged Monday with murder and solicitation to commit murder in the death of his missing fiancee as police try to find out what happened to the mother of his child.

Patrick Frazee is accused of trying to find someone to kill Kelsey Berreth three times between September and November and causing her death on or around Thanksgiving, according to a charging document. Berreth was last seen Thanksgiving Day on a grocery store surveillance video with the couple’s 1-year-old daughter, and Frazee said the two met that day to exchange their child.

The girl is staying with her mother’s family, and authorities have not said if they have found Berreth’s body.

Frazee, 32, was told in court that he is charged with first-degree murder and three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder. No details were provided about who else may have been involved in Berreth’s death.

Fourth Judicial District Attorney Dan May declined to say whether the three soliticiation charges mean investigators believe Frazee tried to get three people to kill Berreth, a flight instructor.

Christian Murdock/The Gazette via AP 

Fourth Judicial District Attorney Daniel May fields questions from the media after Patrick Frazee was charged in the Teller County District Court in Cripple Creek, Colo., on Monday. 

When Frazee was arrested Dec. 21, police said more arrests were possible, but they have not announced any. They have said the evidence suggests Berreth was killed at her home in Woodland Park, a mountain town near Colorado Springs, and that her cellphone was tracked to Gooding, three days after Thanksgiving.

The Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office in Idaho said last week that the FBI and Colorado authorities asked the agency and police in the city of Twin Falls, about 45 miles southeast of Gooding, to help prepare and serve “several search warrants” and process some evidence in the case.

The sheriff’s office didn’t provide details about the searches or the evidence.

Teller County Sheriff's Office via AP,File 


The document detailing the evidence for Frazee’s arrest is sealed. His lawyers are expected to get a copy of it Monday but are not allowed to discuss it with him until a judge decides if they can. A hearing is set for Friday.

May said prosecutors have kept the information secret at the request of investigators, who are still tracking down leads and trying to interview people.

Frazee did not speak in court and is not expected to enter a plea until after evidence is scheduled to be presented at a Jan. 29 hearing.