In a major blow to President Trump’s anti-immigration agenda, a U.S. judge in San Francisco has temporarily stopped the Trump administration from ending the DACA program—that’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The Obama-era program gave nearly 800,000 young undocumented people legal permission to live and work in the United States. President Trump announced he was ending the program late last year. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled the DACA program must remain in place, amid multiple lawsuits over Trump’s decision to rescind the program.
This comes after President Trump held an extraordinary meeting with Democratic and Republican lawmakers at the White House on Monday, in which President Trump appeared to support a wide-reaching deal on immigration that could grant millions of undocumented people a pathway to citizenship.
During the meeting, Trump repeatedly said he would “take the heat” for a sweeping immigration deal, which would likely be opposed by much of his far-right-wing anti-immigrant base. President Trump also said he wanted a “bill of love” to protect the 800,000 young undocumented people, known as DREAMers, whose protections he attempted to rescind late last year. To the surprise of many, the majority of the meeting was televised, which aides said was meant to show the president’s mental acuity, amid mounting questions about the president’s mental health.
But much of what Trump said during the televised meeting appeared to run counter to his campaign promises and his immigration policies, which have included demanding $18 billion in funding for a militarized border wall, rescinding DACA and canceling immigration protections, known as TPS, for hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Sudanese immigrants who have been living in the United States for years.
Following the meeting, a number of his right-wing supporters attacked Trump. He has already begun walking back his comments from the meeting, tweeting, “As I made very clear today, our country needs the security of the Wall on the Southern Border, which must be part of any DACA approval.”
The Guardian is reporting the Trump administration is planning to loosen the restrictions on the use of nuclear weapons and develop a nuclear warhead for U.S. Trident missiles. This nuclear policy was outlined in a draft seen by a former Obama arms control official. It’s significantly more hawkish than the previous administration’s nuclear policy. This comes as President Trump has repeatedly threatened to deploy nuclear weapons against North Korea, proposed building up the United States’ nuclear arsenal and has reportedly asked, about nuclear weapons, “If we had them, why can’t we use them?”
Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in says he’d be willing to sit down with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un. The potential meeting comes after high-level officials from North and South Korea met in the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries for the first official talks in more than two years. At the talks, North Korea said it would send a delegation to the Winter Olympic Games being held next month in South Korea. The diplomacy is seeking to de-escalate the threat of nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula, which has been largely sparked by President Trump’s repeated threats to launch a nuclear strike against North Korea.
Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has resigned from his position as head of the far-right-wing news outlet Breitbart News, which has been described as an online haven for white nationalists and frequently publishes white nationalist propaganda. His departure from Breitbart comes after Bannon and President Trump had a public falling out over Bannon’s quotes in the recently released book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” In the book, Bannon is quoted as accusing Donald Trump Jr. of “treason,” predicting Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation will find evidence of money laundering, and portraying his former boss as wholly unprepared for the presidency. Following the publication of the book, Bannon lost public support from many of his supporters, including billionaire backer Rebekah Mercer.
In news from Washington, D.C., California Senator Dianne Feinstein released the transcript of a congressional interview with the founder of the research firm Fusion GPS, which was behind the dossier on the alleged collusion between President Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. The dossier was compiled by a former British spy named Christopher Steele. It alleges there was a “conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. This is Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, explaining why she released the transcript.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: “I think people are entitled to know what was said, and the lawyers also wanted it released. I see no problem with releasing it.”
Reporter: “But, Senator Feinstein, Senator Grassley says you jeopardized their ability to get certain witnesses, like Kushner. Your reaction?”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: “Oh, I don’t think so. That’s been difficult in any event. To my knowledge, there has not been a single fact in that report that has been proven to be incorrect. But it’s really to muddy the waters and create a problem. You know, Steele brought this information in to the FBI, and it’s quite amazing that you get punished for providing information.”
President Trump’s lawyers have sued both Fusion GPS and BuzzFeed—the news outlet that first published the dossier.
The notorious racist former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio has announced he is running for Senate in the race to replace retiring Republican Senator Jeff Flake. Arpaio has been a major supporter of President Trump, who pardoned the ex-sheriff last year, after he was convicted of contempt of court for defying an order to stop his deputies from racial profiling. For years Arpaio ran a notoriously racist sheriff’s department in Maricopa County, Arizona. He once bragged that he ran his open-air tent city jail like a “concentration camp.” Arpaio was first elected in 1992 and was voted out of office in 2016 after Latinos organized a massive get-out-the-vote campaign.
In an unprecedented ruling, federal judges have ruled North Carolina’s congressional map unconstitutionally favors Republicans. The ruling marks the first time a federal court has struck down a congressional map because of political gerrymandering. The judges ruled the map violates the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. Republicans have vowed to appeal Tuesday’s ruling. The ruling gives Republicans two weeks to present a “remedial plan” to remap the congressional district.
In Libya, the coast guard says as many as 100 people may have died when a boat carrying refugees seeking to reach Europe sunk off Libya’s coast Tuesday. Those who did survive were brought to a naval base in Tripoli, Libya. This is one of the survivors, Zainab Abdesalam.
Zainab Abdesalam: “I feel so disappointed, because I could not make it to where I want to go. I feel so disappointed, and I don’t want to go to prison. I don’t want to go to prison. I don’t want to go to prison.”
In Pakistan, at least six people were killed in a suicide bomb attack targeting police officers in the southwestern city of Quetta Tuesday. The group known as the Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in retaliation for the killing of its fighters by the Pakistani military. At least 16 more people were wounded in the explosion.
Egypt has jailed 262 people for participating in the 2013 sit-in protests against the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi. The sentences ranged from life in prison to three years in jail.
Israel is facing a possible International Criminal Court probe over its 2014 assault on Gaza and continued expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank. According to the Israeli TV station Channel 10, Israel’s National Security Council recently warned Israeli lawmakers that the ICC could open an investigation at some point this year.
This comes as the Israeli defense minister said Israel will approve the construction of hundreds of new settlement homes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a domestic political controversy after an Israeli TV station aired a secret audio recording of his son from outside a strip club in 2015. In the recording, Yair Netanyahu can be heard talking about prostitutes and demanding money from the son of an Israeli gas tycoon. Yair implies his father, Prime Minister Netanyahu, helped push through a $20 billion deal to benefit the businessman, saying, “My dad arranged $20 billion for your dad, and you’re whining with me about 400 shekels.” This comes at a time when Benjamin Netanyahu is facing multiple corruption investigations. We’ll have more on Israel and Palestine after headlines.
Ecuador’s foreign minister says WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s stay in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London is “untenable.” Assange first sought refuge and political asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in 2012, when he faced possible extradition to Sweden amid a sexual assault investigation. The investigation has since been dropped. Assange denies the allegations and calls the investigation a pretext for his ultimate extradition to the United States to face prosecution under the Espionage Act. Ecuador is now calling on Assange’s stay to be ended through international mediation.
Back in the United States, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing Tuesday on a series of bizarre, unexplained health problems suffered by U.S. diplomats in Cuba. Officials originally said the health problems were caused by a likely “sonic attack.” But a new FBI report says there’s no evidence of sonic waves being used in an attack in Havana. At Tuesday’s Senate committee hearing, officials suggested the unexplained health problems might have been caused by an intentionally deployed virus. The Cuban government has denied any involvement in the alleged attack and says it’s helping to investigate the incidents.
In financial news, the International Business Times reports the Trump administration has quietly waived part of the punishment for five major banks that were convicted of manipulating global interest rates. The banks are Citigroup, JPMorgan, Barclays, UBS and Deutsche Bank. President Trump and his business empire owes at least $130 million in loans to Deutsche Bank. The global interest rate manipulation scandal, known as the Libor scandal, involved banks illegally manipulating the interest rate, which underpins trillions in global transactions.
In California, at least 13 people have died after torrential rains triggered mudslides in Santa Barbara County. At least two dozen more people are missing, and authorities expect the death toll to rise. Scientists have linked extreme rainfall events to climate change. This is Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.
Sheriff Bill Brown: “While we hope it will not, we expect that this number will increase as we continue to look for people who are still missing and unaccounted for. We had a very difficult time assessing the area and responding to many of those areas to assist those people. The only words I can really think of to describe what it looked like was it looked like a World War I battlefield.”
The torrential downpours and deadly mudslides in Santa Barbara, California, come only weeks after the region was ravaged by historic and deadly winter wildfires.
In Madagascar, at least 29 people have been killed, and tens of thousands more have been displaced from their homes, after a cyclone hit the island nation off the southeastern coast of Africa over the weekend. This is Haingo Tina, who was displaced by the cyclone.
Haingo Tina: “We are six in our family, and our house is completely submerged in water. My child has a strong fever, so we decided to come here to the displaced holding area. From morning, the moment you step down from you bed, you’re forced to walk in water. Water is everywhere, and that is the reason we came here.”
Meanwhile, a tsunami alert has been issued for wide swaths of Central America and the Caribbean, after a magnitude-7.6 earthquake struck off the coast of Honduras.
In more climate news, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is slated to announce today that New York City is divesting the city’s five pension funds of $5 billion in fossil fuel investments. New York City officials are citing climate change as the reason for the divestment, which they say is the largest of any municipality so far. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said, “Safeguarding the retirement of our city’s police officers, teachers and firefighters is our top priority, and we believe that their financial future is linked to the sustainability of the planet.” In response, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben tweeted, “One of the biggest days in 30 years of the climate fight. Earth’s mightiest city now in full-on fight with its richest, most irresponsible industry.”
The Trump administration has announced it’s dropped plans to open up the waters off the coast of Florida to offshore oil and gas drilling, following fierce opposition by Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott. The announcement comes after the Interior Department moved last week to allow offshore oil and gas drilling in nearly all of the United States’ coastal waters. The reversal of the Obama-era restrictions would open more than a billion acres of water in the Arctic, Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico to offshore oil and gas drilling. The reversal regarding Florida comes after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke met with Governor Rick Scott.
Actor James Franco has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women online, including actress Violet Paley, who tweeted, “Remember the time you pushed my head down in a car towards your exposed penis & that other time you told my friend to come to your hotel when she was 17?” Franco wore a “Time’s Up” pin to the Golden Globe Awards Sunday. The “Time’s Up” initiative was launched to combat sexual harassment and assault. This is James Franco, denying the accusations during an interview last night on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
James Franco: “In my life, I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I’ve done. I have to do that to maintain my well-being. I do it whenever I know that there’s something wrong or needs to be changed. I make it a point to do it. The things that I heard were on Twitter are not accurate.”
James Franco won a Golden Globe for best performance by an actor for his role in “The Disaster Artist.”
And some lawmakers are planning to wear black during President Trump’s first State of the Union address later this month to protest sexual harassment and assault and to show solidarity with the #MeToo and “Time’s Up” movements seeking to end gender violence and abuse. President Trump has been accused of sexual harassment, assault or misconduct by at least 16 women.