It’s Friday January 26, 2018

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A fire killed at least 37 people at a hospital in the South Korean city of Miryang on Friday. Another 131 people were injured, 10 of them critically. Authorities warned the death toll could rise. Most of the people killed were patients in an intensive-care unit for people with respiratory illnesses. A doctor, a nurse, and a nurse's assistant also were among the dead. Firefighters managed to rescue patients trapped on the second floor through windows. It took crews an hour and 40 minutes to extinguish the flames. Authorities could not immediately pinpoint the cause of the fire, although they said the hospital did not have a sprinkler system although it was due to install one by June to comply with new regulations.

President Donald Trump launched a fierce attack on "predatory" trade practices, warning trading partners at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the US will not tolerate unfair trade. He said these predatory practices were distorting markets and the US "will no longer turn a blind eye". Trump said he would always put the US first when it came to trade, but "that does not mean America alone". "The US is open for business," he told global political and finance leaders. Trump lauded the economic achievements of his first year in office, including cutting corporation tax and lowering the unemployment rate, and said the US was more attractive than ever to foreign investment. He said, "I'm here to deliver a simple message - there has never been a better time to hire, to build, to invest and to grow in the United States. America is open for business and we are competitive once again."

President Trump said on Friday he would be willing to shift his stance on immigration to push through a deal that protects illegal immigrants brought to the country as children from deportation and offer them citizenship. In an interview with CNBC broadcast on Friday, Trump also said Republican Senators Tom Cotton, John Cornyn and David Perdue and Representative Bob Goodlatte, who have all taken tough stances on immigration, could agree to offer citizenship within 10 to 12 years to so-called “Dreamers.” It was unclear whether Trump’s stated willingness to shift more on immigration would resonate with Democrats, who along with some Republicans, have accused Trump of being an unreliable negotiating partner, too willing to change his stance under pressure from conservatives in his party. Senior White House officials outlined an immigration plan that would offer a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million of the illegal immigrants. The proposal includes measures to curb some legal immigration programs and provide a border wall with Mexico. To appeal to Republicans, the plan would slash family sponsorship of immigrants, tighten border security and provide billions of dollars in funding for a border wall with Mexico, one of Trump’s signature campaign promises.

Facebook Inc said Russian agents created 129 events on the social media network during the 2016 U.S. election campaign, according to testimony to Congress, shedding more light on Russia’s purported disinformation drive aimed at voters. In a written statement to U.S. lawmakers released on Thursday and dated Jan. 8, Facebook said that 338,300 different Facebook accounts viewed the events and that 62,500 marked that they would attend. The company said it did not have data about which of the events took place. Back in September Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, said only that Russians had created “several promoted events.” Copies of the event pages that have surfaced since then show that at least some of them were political rallies centered on divisive subjects, such as immigration. Russia denies the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that it tried to meddle in American democracy. Facebook said that it had found “overlap” between the online marketing done in 2016 by Russian agents and by President Trump’s campaign and called it “insignificant.” The company said it was not in a position to either substantiate or disprove allegations of collusion between the two camps. Trump denies any collusion and has described investigations by congressional panels and a special counsel as a witch hunt.

The Justice Department's inspector general said Thursday that he had recovered a missing cache of text messages exchanged between two senior FBI officials who investigated both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The officials, senior FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, criticized President Trump in some previously released texts. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, backed off of his assertion that a "whistleblower" had corroborated suggestions that one text between Strzok and Page, who were having an affair, indicated that FBI officials might have created a "secret society" to oppose Trump. Johnson acknowledged that there was a "real possibility" that the text was in jest.

President Trump ordered the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in June, but backed down when White House counsel Donald McGahn threatened to resign rather than carry out Trump's instructions, The New York Times reported Thursday, citing four people informed about the matter. The showdown came after early media reports that Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion by Trump associates was beginning to focus on obstruction. Trump argued that Mueller had three disqualifying conflicts of interest, including a dispute over fees at a Trump golf course, Mueller's former law firm's work for Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, and the fact that Mueller had interviewed to return as FBI director before being named special counsel. Trump on Friday dismissed the report as "fake news."

Lawyers for Julian Assange are asking a London court to withdraw a UK warrant for his arrest, saying it has "lost its purpose". The warrant was issued in 2012 after he allegedly breached bail conditions by seeking asylum in Ecuador's London embassy. He had been facing extradition to Sweden to answer sex assault claims but these have since been dropped. The Crown Prosecution Service said Assange could walk free if he succeeds. Before the start of court proceedings, Assange's lawyer told reporters the warrant should have "no status" because the proceedings in Sweden had come to an end. The offense of failing to surrender to bail carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison. The UK has refused to guarantee that Assange will not be extradited to the US if he leaves the embassy. In April 2017, US attorney general Jeff Sessions said arresting Julian Assange for releasing classified US information was a "priority". A decision on the appeal is expected by February 6.

The U.S. economy grew at a solid rate of 2.6 percent in the final three months of last year, helped by the fastest consumer spending since the spring of 2016 and a big rebound in home construction. According to the Commerce Department, the fourth quarter advance in the gross domestic product, the country’s total output of goods and services, followed gains of just above 3 percent in the second and third quarters. For all of 2017, the economy grew 2.3 percent. That is a significant improvement from a 1.5 percent gain in 2016 but little changed from the modest 2.2 percent average growth rate turned in since the Great Recession ended. Economists are looking for even better growth this year, propelled by the $1.5 trillion tax cut that President Donald Trump pushed through Congress in December. Trump has said his tax plan will serve as “rocket fuel” for the economy by prompting Americans to spend more and businesses to step up investment.

China's smartphone market has fallen for the first time, with annual shipments down by 4% in 2017. According to data from research firm Canalys, the decline ends eight years' growth in the world's largest mobile phone market. Smartphone brands Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo continue to dominate the Chinese handset market. Between 2010 to 2015, the global smartphone market was mostly a showdown between Apple and Samsung. But over the last two years, smaller Chinese Android smartphone brands have risen, offering faster entry-level phones at much more affordable prices. While consumers in big Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai see the latest iPhone and Galaxy devices as "must-have" handsets, people in rural areas couldn't afford the hefty price tags and mostly stick to basic feature phones.

A discount on Nutella has led to violent scenes in a chain of French supermarkets, as shoppers jostled to grab a bargain on the sweet spread. Intermarché supermarkets offered a 70% discount on Nutella, bringing the price down from €4.50 to €1.40. But police were called when people began fighting and pushing one another. One customer told French media, "They are like animals. A woman had her hair pulled, an elderly lady took a box on her head, another had a bloody hand." The report added that all of that market's stock was snapped up within 15 minutes and one customer was given a black eye. Similar scenes have been reported across France, with some being described as "riots". The hunt for discounted jars continued Friday, with shoppers in a supermarket near Toulouse being handed just one each. Some 365 million kilos of Nutella, a hazelnut chocolate spread, is consumed every year in 160 countries around the world. It was created by the Ferrero family in the 1940s in the Piedmont region of Italy, which is famed for its hazelnuts. The firm said it regretted Thursday's violence, but noted that the discount had been unilaterally decided by Intermarché.

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