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Happening Today: Jim Mattis, Shutdown, Guns, Obesity, Andy Cohen, Travis Scott, Harvey Weinstein

What to Know

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will step down at the end of February, according to a resignation letter he hand-delivered to President Trump
  • A new study out found nearly twice as many kids died from guns in 2016 than from cancer, making guns the second-leading killer of children
  • Andy Cohen announced some personal news that viewers didn't see coming -- he said he is having a baby via surrogate

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Defense Secretary Resigns Over Differences With Trump

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will step down at the end of February, according to a resignation letter he hand-delivered to President Trump, a day after Trump overruled his advice against pulling troops out of Syria. Mattis, perhaps the most respected foreign policy official in Trump's administration, will leave by the end of February after two tumultuous years struggling to soften and moderate the president's hardline and sometimes sharply changing policies. In the letter, Mattis wrote of differences with the president on maintaining alliances, advancing an international order and using American power for a common defense. China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model at the expense of the United States and its allies, he wrote. Trump has the right to a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with his on "these and other subjects," he wrote.

House GOP Approves Wall Funding as Shutdown Looms

President Trump's demand for border wall funds hurled the federal government closer to a shutdown as House Republicans approved a package with his $5.7 billion request that is almost certain to be rejected by the Senate. The White House said Trump will not travel to Florida for the Christmas holiday if the government is shutting down. More than 800,000 federal workers will be facing furloughs or forced to work without pay if a resolution is not reached before funding expires at midnight. The shutdown crisis could be one of the final acts of the House GOP majority before relinquishing control to Democrats in January. Congress had been on track to fund the government but lurched Thursday when Trump, after a rare lashing from conservative supporters, declared he would not sign a bill without the funding. Conservatives want to keep fighting. They warn that "caving" on Trump's repeated wall promises could hurt his 2020 re-election chances, and other Republicans' as well.

Guns Kill Twice as Many Kids as Cancer Does, New Study Finds

A new study out found nearly twice as many children died from gun injuries in 2016 than from cancer, making guns the second-leading killer of children in the U.S., NBC News reported. Only car crashes killed more children than guns, and the U.S. gun fatality rate for children — which rose 28 percent between 2013 and 2016 — is 36 times higher than in other developed nations, according to the study from a team at the University of Michigan's Injury Prevention Center. The nation is failing to protect children, wrote the executive editor of the New England Journal of Medicine in an editorial that accompanied the report. "Children in America are dying or being killed at rates that are shameful," Dr. Edward Campion wrote.

American Adults Getting Heavier, Staying the Same Height, CDC Says

You don't need to hang the mistletoe higher but you might want to skip the holiday cookies. A new report released shows U.S. adults aren't getting any taller but they are still getting fatter. The average U.S. adult is overweight and just a few pounds from obese, thanks to average weight increases in all groups — but particularly whites and Hispanics. Overall, the average height for men actually fell very slightly over the past decade. There was no change for women. One factor may be the shift in the country's population. There's a growing number of Mexican-Americans, and that group tends to be a little shorter, said one of the report's authors, Cynthia Ogden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Andy Cohen Announces He's Having a Baby Via Surrogate

It was a special night in the Bravo clubhouse. Sure, it was the final live broadcast of "Watch What Happens Live" for 2018. And yes, O.G. "Real Housewives," including Ramona Singer, Vicki Gunvalson, NeNe Leakes, Kyle Richards and Teresa Giudice were all in attendance. But at the end of tonight's show, Andy Cohen announced some personal news that viewers didn't see coming. "I've always tried to be as transparent as possible about my life. I over share and I expect everyone around me to do the same and tonight I want you to be the first to know that after many years of careful deliberation, fair amount of prayers and the benefit of science, if all goes according to plan, in about six weeks time, I'm going to become a father thanks to a wonderful surrogate who is carrying my future," Cohen shared with the audience. The entire audience couldn't help but share their excitement by delivering a huge round of applause and cheering. Richards also appeared to get emotional after the announcement.

Travis Scott in Talks to Perform at Super Bowl Halftime Show, Source Says

Rapper Travis Scott is in talks to perform at the Super Bowl halftime in Atlanta, The Associated Press has learned. A person familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak about the topic publicly, told The AP that Scott is close to signing on to perform at Super Bowl 53 on Feb. 3 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The person confirmed that Scott will headline Pepsi's pre-Super Bowl concert on Feb. 1 in Atlanta, two days before the Super Bowl. E! News also reported it had learned the Grammy-nominated rapper will join Maroon 5 during the halftime show. Controversy has surrounded the halftime show since NFL player Colin Kaepernick said he would not stand for the national anthem in protest of racial discrimination against blacks in the United States two years ago.

Judge Denies Motion to Toss Harvey Weinstein's Criminal Case

A judge denied a motion to dismiss Harvey Weinstein's criminal case in New York, setting aside defense contentions that alleged improper police conduct in the investigation that led to the arrest should negate the indictment. Judge James Burke's ruling buoyed a prosecution that has appeared on rocky ground in recent months amid a prolonged defense effort to raise doubts about the case and the police investigation. Weinstein's lawyers argued the case had been "irreparably tainted" by a detective's alleged coaching of a potential witness and one of the accusers. They also said the grand jury should have been shown evidence that Weinstein had exchanged friendly emails with his two accusers after the alleged attacks. But Burke ruled that Weinstein's claims of prosecutorial misconduct had "no basis." He also denied Weinstein's request for an evidentiary hearing.

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