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By Dareh Gregorian

Hundreds of furloughed government workers and contractors descended on the White House on Thursday to plead to be allowed to return to work.

Holding signs such as “Stop the war on workers” and “We want work, not walls,” the protesters assembled in the bitter cold outside of AFL-CIO union headquarters before making their way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

President Donald Trump wasn’t at the White House, but many of the protesters blamed him for the shutdown, which has now stretched in to its 20th day with no end in sight. Congress and the president have been locked in a stalemate over his demand for $5.7 billion to build a border wall that he’d said Mexico would pay for.

Over 800,000 workers have been affected by the partial government shutdown, which will become the longest in the country’s history by Saturday.

“I’d like the shutdown to end. I’d like to go back to my job,” said Matthew Chrichton, a 32-year-old staffer for the Peace Corps, adding that he’d moved to Washington for his job four months ago and “living in DC is expensive.”

“I have rent to pay,” he said. “I have bills I need to pay. I want to go to work, and I can’t because they can’t figure out how to fund the government.”

Others pointed the finger at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has declined to take up spending bills passed by the Democratic-controlled House to reopen government without paying for a wall.

J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said McConnell should do his “damn job and let there be a vote.” Workers chanted “get us paid.”

I’

Hundreds of federal workers and contractors rally against the partial federal government shutdown outside the headquarters of the AFL-CIO on Jan. 10, 2019 in Washington, DC.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Smaller scale protests were held around the country, including in New York, Detroit, Dallas and Ogden, Utah, where the IRS is one of the area’s largest employers.

“Please let us go back to work, we’re hungry. We’re running out of money and it’s not about any party,” said Trina Ford, who’s worked for the IRS for 26 years, in Ogden. “I’m a committed employee. I commit to the government. I don’t want to not be paid.”

She said her daughter works at the agency as well, and has two young kids of her own.

“Usually, mama can help out. Mama can’t help her out this time,” Ford said. “It’s killing me.”

While Trump missed the protest in Washington, he was greeted by hundreds of demonstrators in McAllen, Texas, where he was visiting the border.

Associated Press and Vaughn Hillyard contributed.

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BBC Question Time LIVE: Fiona Bruce hosts Tobias Ellwood and Nick Thomas-Symonds for show

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BBC Question Time comes tonight from Belfast where Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood and the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson will be giving their verdict on a seismic week in UK politics.

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No deal Brexit CRISIS PLANNING underway in Kent – schools told teachers may become CARERS

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A BREXIT gridlock threatens to leave pupils in Kent stranded, with the local council warning teachers they may have to pick up the children in their own cars.

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U.S. says “door wide open” to more talks with North Korea

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By Josh Lederman

WASHINGTON — Senior Trump administration officials Thursday said “the door is wide open” to more talks with North Korea after last month’s high-level talks in Hanoi failed to reach a nuclear agreement.

The officials told reporters that President Trump remains “personally engaged” and also wants contacts to occur on the working level, although they wouldn’t disclose whether any such contacts have occurred since the summit between the president and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Officials said the U.S. is working to tighten pressure on North Korea to “unprecedented” levels by better enforcing sanctions and other economic measures against the North.

“This is a new approach,” one senior official said. “You’ve had piecemeal sanctions over the years.”

Tougher pressure, combined with Trump’s willingness to sit down with Kim to discuss North Korea’s future, will hopefully lead North Korea to decide to denuclearize, the officials say.

“We’ll give it some time,” said one official.

The officials said there’s no been change to Trump’s diplomatic approach and that any suggestion that the U.S. was open to a phased approach in which some sanctions would be lifted before denuclearization was a “misinterpretation.” But asked about Trump’s own comments in Hanoi that he didn’t want to box himself in on that issue, the officials said that they, too, didn’t want to box the president in.

The U.S. sees an increasing problem with illicit shipping by North Korea in violation of U.S. and U.N. sanction, including ship-to-ship transfers at sea, the disabling of automated ship identification systems, falsification of cargo documentation, and North Korean coal exports that have resumed in the Gulf of Tonkin.

On Thursday, the Treasury Department slapped sanctions on two shipping company for trying to evade North Korea sanctions. These are the first sanctions since Hanoi.

The Treasury today also issued a new advisory warning about these practices.

Additional companies are “at risk” and will be punished if caught, the officials said.

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