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Trump sets odds of reaching deal on wall at less than 50-50

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Sunday that the odds congressional negotiators will craft a deal to end his border wall standoff with Congress are "less than 50-50."

As hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal workers prepared to return to work, Trump told The Wall Street Journal that he doesn't think the negotiators will strike a deal that he'd accept. He pledged to build a wall anyway using his executive powers to declare a national emergency if necessary.

"I personally think it's less than 50-50, but you have a lot of very good people on that board," Trump said in an interview with the newspaper.

The president was referring to a bipartisan committee of House and Senate lawmakers that will consider border spending as part of the legislative process.

The president's standoff with Democrats on Capitol Hill is far from over and the clock is ticking. The spending bill Trump signed on Friday to temporarily end the partial government shutdown funds the shuttered agencies only until Feb. 15.

It's unclear if the Democrats will budge. Trump seemed girded for battle over the weekend, sending out a series of online messages that foreshadowed the upcoming fight with lawmakers. "BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!" he tweeted.

Is Trump prepared to shut down the government again in three weeks?

"Yeah, I think he actually is," acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said. "He doesn't want to shut the government down, let's make that very clear. He doesn't want to declare a national emergency."

But Mulvaney said that at "the end of the day, the president's commitment is to defend the nation and he will do it with or without Congress."

The linchpin in the standoff is Trump's demand for $5.7 billion for his prized wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, a project Democrats consider an ineffective, wasteful monument to a ridiculous Trump campaign promise.

Asked if he'd willing to accept less than $5.7 billion to build a barrier on the southern border, Trump replied: "I doubt it." He added: "I have to do it right."

He also said he'd be wary of any proposed deal that exchanged funds for a wall for broad immigration reform. And when asked if he would agree to citizenship for immigrants who were illegally brought into the U.S. as children, he again replied, "I doubt it."

California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the leading Republican in the House, said Democrats have funded border barriers in the past and are refusing this time simply because Trump is asking for it.

"The president is the only one who has been reasonable in these negotiations," he said.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, a member of the Democratic leadership in the House, said his colleagues are looking for "evidence-based" legislation.

"Shutdowns are not legitimate negotiating tactics when there's a public policy disagreement between two branches of government," he said.

Jeffries said Democrats are willing to invest in additional infrastructure, especially at legal ports of entry where the majority of drugs come into the country.

"We're willing to invest in personnel. We're willing to invest in additional technology. ... In the past, we have supported enhanced fencing and I think that's something that's reasonable that should be on the table," he said.

Trump has asserted there is a "crisis" at the southern border requiring a wall, blaming previous presidents and Congress for failing to overhaul an immigration system that has allowed millions of people to live in the U.S. illegally.

Last month, he put that number at 35 million, while on Sunday he pegged it at 25.7 million-plus — figures offered without evidence. "I'm not exactly sure where the president got that number this morning," Mulvaney said.

Both are higher than government and private estimates.

His homeland security chief cited "somewhere" between 11 million and 22 million last month. In November, the nonpartisan Pew Research Center reported 10.7 million in 2016 — the lowest in a decade.

The president also tweeted Sunday that the cost of illegal immigration so far this year was nearly $19 billion; he didn't cite a source.

Compare that with research in 2017 from a conservative group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for less immigration: $135 billion a year or about $11.25 billion a month — a figure that included health care and education, plus money spent on immigration enforcement.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. said that he thinks a compromise is possible.

"The president went from talking about a wall along the entire southern border at one point during the campaign ... to let's have barriers where they work and let's have something else where barriers wouldn't work as well," Blunt said.

The partial federal shutdown ended Friday when Trump gave in to mounting pressure, retreating from his demand that Congress commit to the border wall funding before federal agencies could resume work. The bill he signed did not provide the money Trump wanted for a barrier, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called "immoral" and has insisted Congress will not finance.

Mulvaney said Trump agreed to temporarily end the shutdown because some Democrats have stepped forward, publicly and privately, to say they agree with Trump's plan to better secure the border.

Mulvaney said they told Trump they couldn't split with Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer or work with the White House if the government remained closed.

"Everybody wants to look at this and say the president lost," Mulvaney said. "We're still in the middle of negotiations."

On a kickboxing kick
Some Siouxland students stay in shape with mixed martial arts

SIOUX CITY -- Graduating from East High School in December, Lauren Fierro is debating whether to study chemistry or engineering before she goes to college this fall.

In the meantime, the 17-year-old is also focused on a form of "sweet" science: kickboxing.

"Before this, I've spent a lot of time not participating in sports," Fierro said, inside the basement cage at 712 Training Center. "Boxing just seems like a fun way to stay fit."

A few weeks under the tutelage of kickboxing coach Corey Hughes, she said the nightly workout has given her a renewed shot of confidence.

So, what's the best part of boxing?

"Beating people up," Fierro said before letting out a laugh. "Just kidding. It's knowing that you can protect yourself." 

This was exactly what 712 Training Center owner Tom Waage wanted students to take away from classes offered at his mixed martial arts (MMA) academy.

"Some schools are meant to turn out future MMA fighters while other schools want to teach proper technique to students looking for a unique workout," he said at his 513 Jackson St. studio. "We're definitely in a second category."

In addition to boxing, 712 offers the full slate of Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), Muay Thai and MMA classes for students of all ages and learning levels.

A full-time licensed massage therapist, Waage got involved with mixed martial arts in a roundabout way.

"I was a fan of (veteran MMA fighter and training center owner) John DeVall," he explained. "Once we became friends, I became his massage therapist while he became my Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach."

Eventually, Waage became one of the trainers at DeVall's studio at the Benson Building.

When the Benson was sold to a new owner, DeVall -- as well as all of the other tenants -- were asked to leave the 705 Douglas St. building.

"John was leaving town and wanted to sell his equipment," Waage explained. "Guess I was in the right place at the right time. John sold me his stuff while I worked on finding a new location."

More than a month after moving into 513 Jackson St., he described the studio as a "work in progress."

"We're still adjusting to things but we having plenty of room to grow," Waage said, giving a tour of his surprisingly spacious new digs.

Which is good news for aspiring boxer Fierro, as well as Zaira Torres, her sparring partner for the night.

Torres, a 21-year-old Western Iowa Tech Community College social work student, said boxing is in her blood.

"My dad was a boxer when he was young," she said. "Also, growing up in a family with all boys meant I had to be tougher than my brothers."

"You can't let anyone intimidate you," Torres added with conviction.

That sense of fearlessness is a trait shared by Beau Johnson, a Hinton High School ninth grader, who is sparring with Otto Ducasse, a 300-pound offensive lineman on the Morningside College football team.

"I'm on my school's football, wrestling and track team," Johnson said, during the break of the action. "I come here between sports seasons."

Waage can't help but smile at Johnson's energetic determination.

"People have a misconception about mixed martial arts students," Waage said. "Most of our students are young people who are engaged into all sort of activities."

However, not all of 712 Training Center's students happen to be young, right?

"You're right," Wagge, 40, acknowledged. "We have students who are preschoolers, as well as students who are in their 50s and maybe a bit older."

Chances are not all of Waage's students will become the next Ronda Rousey or Conor McGregor. Still, you can never tell for sure.

"Who knows?" he said, watching boxers spar inside a cage. "You just know what will happen."

Bitter cold temperatures expected through early part of the week

SIOUX CITY -- Bitter cold temperatures are forecast for Sioux City through at least Wednesday night. 

Janice Maldonado, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, said temperatures early Monday morning could be as cold as 9 degrees above, with wind chill values as low as 13 degrees below zero. 

Temperatures won't rebound much during the day Monday, with the high temperature pegged around 13 degrees. Wind chill values for the warmest part of the day are expected to remain below zero. 

The highest temperatures forecast Tuesday, about 9 degrees, will be just after midnight, after which the temperature will steadily fall. Temperatures late Tuesday night are forecast around 12 degrees below zero, with a wind chill around 38 degrees below. 

During the early morning hours Wednesday, temperatures are pegged around negative 20 degrees. Wind chill could drag that down to minus 45 degrees. 

Daytime temperatures are not expected to rise above zero Wednesday. A wind chill watch will be in effect from 6 p.m. Tuesday through noon Wednesday. 

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Sioux City Council to vote on dog park safety changes

SIOUX CITY -- The Sioux City Council will be asked Monday to approve changes to the rules governing Bacon Creek's Lewis and Clark Dog Park, including establishing a permit system to use the park and installing key coded locks at the entrance.

After Larry and Sue Rubida's Shih Tzu Bella was bitten to death by a Rottweiler at the park on July 17, a dog park committee held several meetings to devise ways to improve safety at the park. Committee members included representatives from the Sioux City Police Department, Sioux City Parks and Recreation Department, Animal Control, Siouxland Humane Society and Noah's Hope Animal Rescue.

Recommendations include creating a small dog area for dogs 30 pounds and under, installing two key coded locks on the main entrance gate, and implementing a dog park permit system. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee approved the dog park committee's recommendations at its Nov. 18 meeting. 

Dog owners wishing to use the park will pay an annual fee of $10 for a dog licensed in the city and $20 for a non-Sioux City licensed dog. A fee of $10 will be charged for each additional dog. Dog owners with permits, which will be available through Animal Control or the City Clerk's office, will receive a code to enter the park's gate.

Parks and Recreation will also form a "Dog Ambassador" volunteer program to staff the park, but according to city documents, no guarantees will be given to have a volunteer on-duty at all times.

Dog park permit fees will be used to fund capital improvements and equipment purchases.