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President Trump said Thursday that the U.S. won’t give more financial aid to the Palestinian Authority unless Palestinians agree to peace talks with Israel. During a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Davos, Switzerland, Trump said the U.S. has a “great proposal” for Middle East peace but the Palestinians need to cooperate in talks. Trump told reporters, “We give them hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Why should we do that as a country, if they’re doing nothing for us? The money is on the table.” Trump arrived at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland to convince skeptical globalists that his protectionist "America First" agenda can be compatible with cooperation. Before starting the trip, Trump tweeted that he planned "to tell the world how great America is and is doing. Our economy is now booming and with all I am doing, will only get better... Our country is finally WINNING again!" Trump delivers a keynote address on Friday.
The Trump administration on Wednesday unveiled new sanctions against people and companies believed to be supporting North Korea and its weapons program. "Treasury continues to systematically target individuals and entities financing the Kim regime and its weapons programs, including officials complicit in North Korean sanctions evasion schemes," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. The new sanctions target North Korean and Chinese trading companies, North Korean ships, and North Korea's oil ministry, as well as North Korean representatives in China and Russia, linked to the transfer of chemicals and equipment used for weapons production. The measures mark the latest sign of escalating tensions over Pyongyang's missile and nuclear weapons program.
North Korea sent a rare announcement addressed to “all Koreans at home and abroad” on Thursday, saying they should make a “breakthrough” for unification without the help of other countries, its state media said. It said all Koreans should “promote contact, travel, cooperation between North and South Korea” while adding Pyongyang will “smash” all challenges against reunification of the Korean peninsula. The announcement, issued after a joint meeting of government and political parties, added Koreans should wage an energetic drive to defuse the acute military tension and create a peaceful climate on the Korean peninsula. North Korea did not provide details why the meeting had been held but the statement said it was aimed to support leader Kim Jong Un’s remarks regarding unification from his New Year’s address. It said this year is meaningful for both North and South Korea as it is the 70th anniversary of the founding of North Korea while South Korea will be hosting the Winter Olympics next month.
Former Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison on seven charges of criminal sexual conduct. More than 150 impact statements were read by victims at his trial, including powerful condemnations by Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Nassar he does not "deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again," adding, "I just signed your death warrant." Separately, Nassar was sentenced in December to 60 years in prison for child pornography crimes. At Michigan State University, where Nassar served as a team doctor for years, university President Lou Anna Simon resigned on Wednesday night under pressure after being criticized for the handling of the case.
President Trump said Wednesday he is "looking forward" to answering Special Counsel Robert Mueller's questions in the Russia investigation. "I would love to do it, and I would like to do it as soon as possible," Trump said. "I would do it under oath, absolutely." Trump reiterated that there had been "no collusion" by his associates with Russia's election meddling, and insisted that the only reason that he was being investigated for possible obstruction of justice was his effort to stand up for himself. "Oh well, did he fight back?" Trump said, "You fight back, oh, it's obstruction." Mueller's team told Trump's lawyers that it wants to interview the president about his firing of former FBI Director James Comey and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
The Justice Department sent a letter Wednesday to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) urging him not to publicly release a secret memo purportedly showing "shocking" political bias within the FBI. In the memo, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd says publicizing the allegations before the FBI has a chance to review them would be "reckless" because the memo contains secret information and giving it to journalists could cause "risk of harm to national security and to ongoing investigations." "We do not understand why the Committee would possibly seek to disclose classified and law enforcement sensitive information without first consulting with the relevant members of the Intelligence Community," Boyd wrote. He also said the bias allegations were unfounded.
President Trump said Wednesday he is open to a pathway to citizenship for undocumented young people brought to the U.S. as children. "We're going to morph into it," he said. "It's going to happen, at some point in the future, over a period of 10 to 12 years." Last year, Trump said he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and gave Congress until March 5 to come up with a legislative solution. Trump said he thinks a deal will be reached, and DACA recipients "should not be concerned" about being deported. He also reiterated that he wants $25 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. "If you don't have a wall you don't have DACA," he said.
The Justice Department also ramped up pressure on so-called sanctuary cities seeking public safety grant money, warning that they could be legally forced to prove they are cooperating with federal immigration authorities. The move prompted an immediate backlash, with mayors from across the country boycotting a meeting at the White House with President Trump on Wednesday afternoon. Trump responded by accusing the boycotting mayors of putting the needs of “criminal illegal immigrants over law-abiding Americans.” Officials sent letters to roughly two dozen jurisdictions threatening to issue subpoenas if they don’t willingly relinquish documents showing they aren’t withholding information about the citizenship or immigration status of people in custody. Many cities have been openly defiant in the face of the threats, with lawsuits pending in Chicago, Philadelphia, and California over whether the administration has overstepped its authority by seeking to withhold grant money. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said "racist assault on our immigrant communities" does not "make us safer and it violates America's core values."
U.S. and Mexican unions will formally complain to the U.S. Labor Department on Thursday that Mexico continues to violate NAFTA’s weak labor standards, a move that they hope will persuade U.S. negotiators to push for stronger rules. The AFL-CIO told Reuters that it and Mexico’s UNT were filing the complaint with the U.S. office that oversees the labor accord attached to the North American Free Trade Agreement as U.S., Canadian, and Mexican negotiators met in Montreal to try to modernize the 1994 trade pact. The complaint argues that Mexico’s proposed labor law amendments to implement constitutional reforms will violate NAFTA. It seeks efforts from the United States to prevent the measures from being implemented and to demand changes to bring Mexico into compliance. Talks to overhaul the trade deal have been dogged by U.S. threats to withdraw from the pact, but the foreign ministers of Mexico and Canada on Thursday struck an upbeat note on future negotiations. A key complaint is that NAFTA has failed to lift chronically low Mexican wages that have steadily drawn U.S. and Canadian factories and jobs to Mexico.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that a weak dollar is good for the U.S., sending the dollar plunging in currency markets. "Obviously a weaker dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities," Mnuchin said while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he is to talk with U.S. trade partners and encourage investment from businesses. Mnuchin's remarks, ahead of President Trump's arrival in Davos, marked a break with a decades-long U.S. government commitment to a strong dollar. During his 2016 campaign and since Trump has occasionally said he would like to see the dollar's value fall so U.S. goods would become cheaper and exports would increase.
Oprah Winfrey has shut down the rumors that she might run for president in 2020, weeks after her stirring speech at the Golden Globe Awards sparked speculation that the former talk-show host would run for office. In a new profile with In Style, Winfrey addressed the "Oprah 2020" rumors publicly for the first time, following two of her "closest friends" telling CNN earlier this month that Winfrey was "actively" thinking about a presidential bid. "I've always felt very secure and confident with myself in knowing what I could do and what I could not," Winfrey told In Style of a potential bid. "And so it's not something that interests me. I don't have the DNA for it." Winfrey said that her friend and "CBS This Morning" host Gayle King had been "calling me regularly and texting me things, like 'I know, I know, I know! It wouldn't be good for you—it would be good for everyone else.'" Winfrey added, "I met with someone the other day who said that they would help me with a campaign. That's not for me."
Warren Miller, the iconic and beloved filmmaker who introduced generations to the thrills and freedom of skiing and outdoor adventures, passed away at the age of 93 on Wednesday. His family announced he died peacefully of natural causes at his home on Orcas Island, which is north of Seattle. Miller earned global acclaim and a passionate, multi-generational following for his annual ski feature films, which kicked off the ski season for more than 60 years, showing in hundreds of cities across the U.S. and around the world. While he is known as the original ski bum, Miller’s talents went well beyond ski filmmaking. He produced more than 500 films, primarily covering outdoor pursuits, including surfing, sailing, and other water sports. As an artist, cartoonist, and author, he wrote some 1,200 columns and 11 books. He also was a World War II veteran, a ski instructor and ski racer, an accomplished surfer, and a champion sailor. He took up windsurfing in his 60s, and then turned to destination motor boating in his 70s and 80s, exploring the Northwest and Alaska from his home on Orcas Island. During his 80s and 90s, Miller’s philanthropic efforts provided entrepreneurial training to thousands of youth nationwide, emphasizing hard work, ingenuity, and creativity. Perhaps one of his most cited quotes provides some insight as to how Miller packed so much into one lifetime: “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.”
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