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Illinois Capitol on lockdown ahead of final budget action

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Illinois’ state Capitol building in Springfield was placed on lockdown on Thursday afternoon after a woman threw an unidentified white powder into the offices of the governor and lieutenant governor as well as in the House gallery, a fire department official said.

The incident delayed a crucial vote by the House of Representatives on overriding the governor’s vetoes of fiscal 2018 budget bills.

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Barry Helmerichs, fire chief in Springfield, Illinois, told Reuters his department sent a hazardous materials team to the Capitol after receiving a call at 1:26 p.m. CDT, 4 minutes before the House was set to go into session.

Helmerichs said his department is analyzing the powdery substance but has ordered everyone inside the statehouse to stay in place, including in the House chamber, where lawmakers were milling around while the building remained on lockdown.

“We don’t want them out and spreading this around,” he said, referring to the powder and noting caution was merited even though the powder might prove harmless.

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner was not in the building, his office said.

The Democratic-controlled House was scheduled on Thursday afternoon to try to enact a $36 billion budget and tax hike vetoed by Rauner on Tuesday. The nation’s fifth-largest state has been without a complete budget for two fiscal years due to political wrangling.

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(Reporting by Dave McKinney and Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)


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Boris Johnson defended ‘fantastic’ Brexit plan in final debate with Jeremy Corbyn before snap election

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The two men vying to be British prime minister in next week's election exchanged trademark blows Friday over the familiar faultlines of Brexit and healthcare in the final head-to-head TV debate of the month-old campaign.

In a lacklustre hour-long battle largely devoid of standout moments, Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeatedly criticized Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's failure to say if he supports Britain leaving the EU while talking up his agenda.

"We have a fantastic plan to get Brexit done," Johnson said, referring to a divorce deal he finalized with EU leaders in October.

"How can you get... a new deal from Brussels for Brexit, if you don't actually believe in it?" he added, referring to Corbyn's vow to remain neutral in a second EU referendum he wants to hold within six months.

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Nikki Haley tries to stop national outrage: It was other people who saw Confederate flag as ‘service, sacrifice, heritage’

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Former UN Ambassador and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is trying hard to stop the national outrage over an interview she gave in which she suggested the Confederate flag stood for "service, and sacrifice, and heritage" until white supremacist Dylann Roof slaughtered nine Black church-goers attending a Bible study class.

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Ocasio-Cortez takes victory lap after Amazon goes to NYC — even after she helped block $3 billion in subsidies

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was one of the progressive leaders in New York City credited with blocking $3 billion in public subsidies for Amazon to open an additional headquarters.

But Amazon is moving into NYC despite the lack of subsidies.

"The giant online retailer said it has signed a new lease for 335,000 square feet on the city’s west side in the new Hudson Yards neighborhood, where it will have more than 1,500 employees," The Wall Street Journal reported. "Amazon is taking the space without any of the special tax credits and other inducements the company had been offered to build a new headquarters in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City, the company said."

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