Cohen Secretly Taped Trump Discussing Payment To Playboy Model

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According to several reports out Friday, Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen secretly recorded a conversation he had with Trump two months before the presidential election. 

During that conversation, the two men reportedly discussed payments to a former Playboy model who claimed to have had an affair with Trump. 

The New York Times was the first to report the news, and outlets including CNN and ABC later confirmed with sources familiar with the matter.

Sources say the recordings were discovered during FBI raids on Cohen's office, hotel room and home earlier this year.

Federal prosecutors have been looking into Cohen's efforts to keep potentially damaging information about Trump under wraps ahead of the 2016 election. They're trying to determine whether those actions violated campaign-finance laws. And, as the Times notes, a recording like this "would be of keen interest" to investigators.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

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Ky. Medicaid Recipients Will Get Vision And Dental Benefits Back

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The state of Kentucky is reinstating vision and dental benefits for its hundreds of thousands of residents enrolled in Medicaid.

The coverage was cut on July 1 after a federal judge blocked Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's plan to overhaul the state's Medicaid system, called Kentucky HEALTH. The cuts drew criticism from some Democratic lawmakers and others who advocate for public health. 

On Thursday, Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Family Services announced the renewed benefits, saying the move is meant to "avoid a prolonged coverage gap" while the federal Medicaid agency reviews the state's program. Kentucky will cover eligible claims that were incurred after the court action, including those for non-emergency transportation services.  

The ruling is considered a snag in the Trump administration's plan encouraging states to implement Medicaid work requirements.  

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Asylum Case Wins Vary Greatly By City, But It’s Unclear Why

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While Attorney General Jeff Sessions is raising the asylum eligibility bar, the fates of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers still rest in the hands of 334 immigration judges in 60 courts across the nation

The odds of winning asylum — or receiving a deportation order — seems to depend on who hears the case and where, as well as what country the applicant is fromAccording to Reuters, Charlotte, North Carolina, deports 84 percent of immigrants who come to court. That number jumps to 89 percent in Atlanta. But in San Francisco, the deportation order rate is only 36 percent. In New York City? Only 24 percent. Immigrant rights advocates have long argued that this disparity between courts proves how arbitrary the system is.

But the head of the union that represents immigration judges told Newsy that drawing conclusions from those numbers is misleading and simplistic. 

"Judges are not given the exact same combination of cases. So it's kind of like trying to compare apples and oranges. You can't do that — each case is really fundamentally different," said Ashley Tabaddor, the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges. "I keep coming back and saying the judge has to make a decision based on the facts of the case, based on the law of the case." 

SEE MORE: How To Reduce The Immigration Case Backlog? Depends Who You Ask

"From our perspective, we look to see, 'Is there a reason to question whether that decision or whether that judge mishandled that case?' So if it turns out that a particular case was incorrectly decided, the parties can take up an appeal and, you know, get it reversed. So unless and until you can really demonstrate that there's been an error made, then I'm not comfortable with drawing any sort of conclusion about any particular geographic location or judges," she added. 

Besides where and by whom a case is heard, asylum outcomes can vary based on other factors, like whether someone is a convicted criminal when they apply or whether they have a lawyer. To get a better sense of how the asylum system truly works, Tabaddor welcomes anyone to observe her court and those of her colleagues.

"A lot of the misconception is washed away when you come in and you see the challenges, as well as what the judges are doing every day for the public, and how they are delivering and protecting our American judicial system," Tabaddor said.

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Trump Administration Extends Protection For Somali Immigrants

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The Trump Administration is extending the Temporary Protected Status designation for Somalia.

TPS was created to protect immigrants that fled to the U.S. due to an environmental disaster, ongoing armed conflict or other extraordinary circumstance back home. Those under the designation are granted temporary protection from deportation and allowed work permits.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, there are around 500 Somalis currently in the U.S. under that protection, but their status was set to expire in September.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said the decision was made after reviewing the "ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions"in Somalia.

Somalis in the war torn country are facing religious persecution, targeted attacks on civilians and famine.

Somalis that already have the status can now re-register for an additional 18 months of protection. 

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Judge Dismisses Climate Change Lawsuit Against Major Oil Companies

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A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against five major oil companies for their role in climate change.

The lawsuit was brought by New York City against Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, BP and Shell. The New York Times reports the city's case was considered a long shot and hinged on a state law allowing courts to hold certain parties responsible for interfering with property use.

New York City said the companies needed to pay for damage done by flooding, extreme weather and other effects of climate change.

The judge dismissed the case Thursday, saying the issue of climate change wasn't one for the courts and should be left up to Congress and the executive branch to deal with.

A similar case brought by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, California, was dismissed last month. The judge in that case also said the issue of climate change was for the other branches of government to deal with.

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The NFL’s New National Anthem Policy Is On Hold

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The NFL's new national anthem policy has been put on hold.

The league and the NFL Players Association said in a joint statement Friday they have agreed to suspend enforcement of the new rules while they continue to discuss the issue. 

In the meantime, the two sides say they will work on a resolution "through mutual, good faith commitments, outside of litigation."

The NFL Players Association filed a grievance over the national anthem policy earlier this month. The organization said the NFL imposed the new rules without consulting them first.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the new policy back in May.

It requires all players and league personnel on the field to stand during the national anthem or face a fine. Personnel who don't wish to comply have the option to stay in the locker room until the anthem is over.

Friday's announcement came not long after reports surfaced that the Miami Dolphins could fine or suspend players for up to four games if they violate the new rules.

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Caffeine May Not Help Control Appetite After All

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Americans drink an average of eight ounces of coffee per day. There's a diet myth out there that caffeine can curb appetite, but a new study out found drinking caffeine has less impact than we may have thought. 

“Seeing many weight loss supplements contained caffeine, I questioned weather the caffeine I was drinking affected how much I chose to eat,” Leah M. Panek-Shirley, a researcher from SUNY University at Buffalo said.

Leah Panek-Shirley lead the study, in which fifty adults visited a lab once a week for a month. Each time, participants either drank no or small amounts of caffeine, added to a juice of their choice. Thirty minutes later, they were told to eat as much as they wanted from an 8,000 calorie breakfast buffet. Researchers also tracked what participants ate the rest of the day. 

The study found after drinking a small amount of caffeine, participants consumed just ten percent less, or 70 calories. Researchers say participants also compensated for the reduced intake at breakfast later in the day.

SEE MORE: How Climate Change Could Be Very Bad For Your Caffeine Habit

"When we looked at what they ate and drank, throughout the entire day, we found the small decrease did not last, It was a transient effect. We also found no difference in appetite in the lab or outside the lab by caffeine dose,” Panek-Shirley said. 

Researchers say the study reinforces the importance of good eating habits — not caffeine diet pills — when it comes to weight loss. 

So instead of those pills that promote caffeine as a weight loss solution, researchers say the study instead reinforces the importance of good eating habits.

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Your Parents’ Financial Success Might Determine Yours

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Ever see a child attached to a stretchable tether? The kiddo can only venture as far as it stretches, then gets tugged back by the natural pull. Tethers are really good at keeping kids close.

It turns out, that's sort of how economic achievement works, also. Economists study something called intergenerational elasticity, or IGE. It looks at how our incomes drift from where our parents stood.

If there is a perfect elasticity of 1.0 (meaning there's no give in the tether), parents with median incomes will have kids who earn median incomes. By contrast, zero elasticity means a parent's income won't tell us anything about how much their child will earn. Zero elasticity. It's basically "Baby's Day Out."

Market-based economies (like the U.S.) typically fall somewhere in the middle, but the trends are changing. And according to a 2012 analysis, the U.S. IGE is pretty high — meaning how your parents did is a strong predictor of how you will do. The details start with a caveat. This analysis looked specifically at fathers and sons; it turns out elasticity is lower for daughters (they have more flexibility).

In the father-son category, the American IGE was 0.47. This means that nearly half of a son's income is pre-decided by his father's. (In the past, it was 0.3) Canada's is 0.19: There, only 19 percent of the income advantage or disadvantage for a father carried down to his son.

SEE MORE: Mass Incarceration Of Parents Affects Kids' Health Into Adulthood

Keep in mind that statistics aren't destiny. Individual kids can wiggle free from a tether, moving up or down the ladder. 

Is there anything we can do to increase American opportunity? A handful of researchers are trying to figure that out.

One 2014 analysis compared American cities and found large variations. A child born into the bottom 20 percent in Charlotte, North Carolina, had a 4.4 percent chance of reaching the top 20 percent. In San Jose, California, a similar child's chance rose to 12.9 percent.

Establishing causation is tricky. But researchers found five factors that correlated with high-mobility cities: less residential segregation, less income inequality, better primary schools, greater social capital and more family stability.

Since then, a 2017 study found evidence that job networks, institutions like unions that might reduce inequality, and the tendency to marry a working spouse all played significant roles.

So now the question is: Will the economic tethers continue tightening in the U.S., or can we find a way to secure the American dream and make ourselves a little more mobile?

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House Members Look To Get Data On Hezbollah

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Congressmen Tom Suozzi and Adam Kinzinger are hoping Congress will call on the Director of National Intelligence to file a report explaining how terror group Hezbollah continues to expand. They want to know everything from the group's capabilities to the its arsenal supply to how it get its funding. Suozzi also says he wants to learn how the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is operating. Their bill, Disarm Hezbollah Act, is now being rolled into the National Defense Authorization Act. 

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The Majority Of Families Separated At The Border Are Still Apart

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The U.S. government has about a week left before a court-ordered deadline to reunite thousands of children and parents who were separated at the southern border. But the vast majority of those families are still apart.

According to court documents filed Thursday, an estimated 364 migrant children between the ages of 5 and 17 have been returned to their families so far.

The government has identified a total of 2,551 kids who had been separated from their families at the border.

Officials say of the 1,606 children who are possibly eligible to rejoin their parents, only 848 have been interviewed and cleared for reunification. And 908 kids are "either not eligible, or not yet known to be eligible, for reunification."

Last month, a San Diego-based federal judge ordered that all children over the age of 5 be reunited with their families by July 26. The government recently finished reuniting children under 5 years old with their eligible guardians.

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