January 17, 2018

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Freedom of information cases soar

TRAC--Since the new administration took office at the end of January 2017, there has been a sharp jump in the number of lawsuits filed by individuals and organizations seeking court orders to obtain federal government records. Suits brought by the news media and nonprofit advocacy organizations have fueled a significant part of this rise.

Lawsuits this past fiscal year rose an astonishing 26 percent, and are continuing to climb. Freedom of Information Act court cases are now up over 70 percent from just five years ago. Court backlogs of pending FOIA litigation have climbed even faster, with nearly 900 cases waiting resolution.

The Department of Justice with 197 FOIA lawsuits - a jump of 33 - was sued the most often, followed by the Department of Homeland Security with 98 suits. The Department of Interior with 68 new FOIA suits filed against it moved up in the rankings from fifth place in FY 2016 to third place in FY 2017.

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China fires shot in new financial war with US

The Daily Proof -  Bloomberg reported that Beijing is reviewing the composition of Chinese reserves and considering reducing their allocation to U.S. Treasury securities. China has been diversifying away from Treasuries for years, including increased allocations to gold, direct investments in private equity, hedge funds and high-quality, euro-denominated debt.

The Chinese leak is best understood as a shot across the bow in what is shaping up as a new currency and trade war between the U.S. and China.

The U.S. is preparing to slap tariffs and trade sanctions on China, so China was warning Washington that such actions might be met with retaliation.

Party control by state

Ballotpedia - Phil Murphy (D) was sworn into office as the Governor of New Jersey. He replaces Chris Christie (R), who was ineligible to run for re-election in 2017 due to term limits. Murphy's swearing-in gives Democrats trifecta control of the state, as they now hold the governor's mansion and both houses of the legislature.

The Democratic trifecta in New Jersey now brings the Democratic total to eight across the country. Democrats also picked up a trifecta in Washington as a result of the 2017 elections. Republicans currently have 26 trifectas, while 16 states remain under divided government.