President Trump is demanding a slew of anti-immigrant measures, including $18 billion for his border wall, in exchange for legal protections for young undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers. In total, Trump is demanding $33 billion over a decade to fund the expansion of the militarized border wall and to hire 10,000 additional immigration agents. Trump is also demanding federal grants be withheld from so-called sanctuary cities. In exchange, Trump proposes Congress authorize some protections for nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants who had been protected under DACA—that’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—before Trump rescinded the Obama-era policy late last year. Immigrant rights groups and Democratic lawmakers have slammed Trump for trying to use the DREAMers in order to win his far-right, anti-immigrant demands. Congress must resolve questions on immigration and other key political issues before January 19 to avoid a partial shutdown of the government.
In more news on immigration, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen faces a deadline today to decide whether to extend the temporary protected status for more than 250,000 Salvadoran immigrants who have lived in the United States for nearly two decades. The program, known as TPS, protects a quarter of a million Salvadoran immigrants who came to the United States before 2001, when a devastating earthquake destroyed parts of El Salvador. The Trump administration has already said it will end temporary protected status for tens of thousands of Haitian, Nicaraguan and Sudanese immigrants living in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, known as the CDC, is slated to hold a briefing next week to outline how the U.S. public should prepare for the event of a nuclear war. The scheduled briefing comes as tensions between the United States and North Korea continue to rise, largely sparked by President Trump’s repeated threats to launch a nuclear strike against North Korea. Last week, both former Vice President Joe Biden and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen said they think the United States has never been closer to a nuclear war with North Korea. South Korea and North Korea are slated to hold diplomatic talks on Tuesday. It will be the first high-level diplomatic talks between the two countries in two years.
President Trump took to Twitter on Saturday morning to defend his mental health, as an explosive new tell-all book portraying Trump as unfit for the presidency sold out from coast to coast after going on sale on Friday.
The publisher, Henry Holt, is rushing to print more copies of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by journalist Michael Wolff. The book has been number one on the Amazon best-sellers list since Wednesday, when excerpts of the book were published online. In these excerpts, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is quoted portraying his former boss as wholly unprepared for the presidency, accusing Donald Trump Jr. of “treason,” and predicting Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation will find evidence of money laundering.
Bannon has since tried to walk back his comments, claiming his treason comments were a reference to Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, not Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. Bannon also says he has unwavering support for the president. Late last week, President Trump tried frantically and unsuccessfully to stop the publication of the book, with his lawyers sending cease and desist letters to Bannon, author Michael Wolff and publisher Henry Holt.
But after failing to stop the book’s publication and distribution, President Trump took to Twitter to try to defend his mental health, tweeting, “I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star, to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!”
Those were President Trump’s tweets from 7:20 a.m. Saturday morning, while he was at Camp David to meet with lawmakers about national policy issues, including the budget and healthcare. He tweeted this only 10 minutes after a segment on “Fox & Friends” covered the media’s increasing questions about Trump’s mental health. On Saturday morning, Trump also said he wished the U.S. had stronger libel laws. Trump has also lashed out at the book’s author, Michael Wolff, calling him a “total loser.” This is Wolff, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Michael Wolff: “If I left out anything, it’s probably stuff that was even more damning.”
Chuck Todd: “It’s that bad.”
Michael Wolff: “It’s that bad. I mean, it’s an extraordinary moment in time. And the last several days focused on my book, I think, are proof of this. This is—what happened here? What’s going on here? This is, you know, I think, not an exaggeration and not unreasonable, and it’s not unreasonable to say this is 25th Amendment kind of stuff.”
President Trump is reportedly heading to Atlanta today to attend the college football national championship game between Alabama and Georgia. The NAACP and other groups are organizing protests against Trump’s attendance, which comes after Trump has spent months criticizing NFL football players for taking the knee during the national anthem to protest against police brutality and racial injustice.
In Syria, an explosion in the rebel-held city of Idlib has killed at least 23 people and wounded dozens more. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the explosion in the northwest Syrian city was targeting the headquarters of a rebel faction and that multiple victims were civilians. Meanwhile, the Syrian Army is continuing its advance on Idlib province, causing thousands of civilians to flee for the Turkish border in freezing winter conditions.
Israel has published a blacklist of 20 different organizations worldwide whose members are banned from entering Israel over their groups’ support for BDS, the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. Among the groups whose members are banned from entering Israel are Jewish Voice for Peace, National Students for Justice in Palestine, American Friends Service Committee, American Muslims for Palestine, Code Pink and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights—as well as Palestinian solidarity groups in France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Britain, Chile and South Africa. In response, the director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Yousef Munayyer, said, “When Israel, which aims to portray itself to the world as liberal and democratic, blacklists activists dedicated to nonviolent organizing and dissent, it only further exposes itself as a fraud.”
Meanwhile, multiple news outlets are reporting that the Trump administration has frozen $125 million in funding for the U.N. agency that provides humanitarian aid to Palestinians. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency provides critical educational and health services in the Palestinian Territories. Last week, President Trump threatened to cut off U.S. funding to the agency, tweeting, “With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?” The State Department is denying the funding has been frozen.
The New York Times reports Jared Kushner’s family real estate empire received a $30 million investment from one of Israel’s largest financial institutions, only days before Jared Kushner traveled to Israel with President Trump in May on their first diplomatic trip there. Jared Kushner is both President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and he’s been tasked with brokering peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. Despite this White House role, Kushner continues to retain stakes in his family’s real estate empire, including in the apartment buildings that received part of the $30 million investment from the Israeli firm Menora Mivtachim.
People rallied in New York City on Friday to support the Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi, who is imprisoned and facing 12 charges in an Israeli military court after a video of her slapping an Israeli soldier went viral. The 16-year-old girl slapped the soldier after Israeli troops shot Tamimi’s 14-year-old cousin in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet and fired tear gas canisters into her family’s home. Mondoweiss reports that the soldier actually slapped the 16-year-old girl first, causing her to slap back. In New York City, protesters rallied at Grand Central to demand Tamimi’s freedom.
Nerdeen Kiswani: “My name is Nerdeen Kiswani. I’m from New York City Students for Justice in Palestine. I’m here today protesting and demanding the release of Ahed Tamimi. Ahed embodies resistance. Ahed symbolizes what all Palestinians should be doing. And that’s why I’m here today, mostly, because I feel like we need to uplift these markers of resistance in our society, so we can continue to produce more of them.”
In Honduras, thousands of people took to the streets of the capital Tegucigalpa on Saturday to protest the re-election of President Juan Orlando Hernández, saying the vote was marred by widespread fraud. The demonstration was led by opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla, who challenged the U.S.-backed incumbent in the November 26 presidential election. Election observers and the Organization of American States have called for a new election in Honduras, saying the first vote was so filled with irregularities that it was impossible to declare a winner. Protesters have called for a national strike and boycott of Hernández’s scheduled inauguration on January 27.
Back in the United States, Pacifica Foundation, the owner of radio stations KPFA, KPFK, KPFT, WBAI and WPFW, faces potential asset seizures by New York City landlord Empire State Realty Trust beginning this week. The threat of asset seizures stems from a lawsuit won by Empire State Realty Trust against Pacifica Foundation for $1.8 million in back antenna lease payments owed by the network’s New York City station WBAI. WBAI’s antenna sits on the Empire State Building. Among the assets at risk are California properties that house Pacifica Foundation’s headquarters and its Berkeley station KPFA. Pacifica Foundation is the oldest listener-supported radio network in the country. It was founded in Berkeley, California, in 1949 by war resister Lewis Hill.
In more media news, one of the most senior editors at the BBC has resigned from her position as China editor, accusing the BBC of being “secretive and illegal” and breaking pay equity laws by paying men more than women. Carrie Gracie has worked at the BBC for 30 years. In an open letter to the BBC’s license fee payers, Gracie wrote, “The BBC belongs to you, the licence fee payer. I believe you have a right to know that it is breaking equality law and resisting pressure for a fair and transparent pay structure.”
Hollywood actors and actresses celebrated the #MeToo movement and demanded gender and racial justice at Sunday night’s Golden Globe Awards. Many attendees answered the call to wear black and wore pins that read “Time’s Up!” Among the night’s top winners was the film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” about a mother avenging the rape and murder of her daughter. The film won best picture drama, best supporting actor, best screenplay and best actress in a motion picture drama. Actor Sterling K. Brown made history on Sunday night by becoming the first African-American man to win a Golden Globe for best actor in a TV series drama for his role in “This Is Us.” Comedian Aziz Ansari also made history by becoming the first Asian-American man to win for best lead performance in a TV comedy. Oprah Winfrey became the first African-American woman to win the Golden Globe lifetime achievement award. During the ceremony, Golden Globes host Seth Meyers joked with Oprah, suggesting she should run for president. The joke, and Oprah’s powerful acceptance speech, fueled a wave of speculation and enthusiasm about a possible 2020 bid by the actress. In response, Oprah’s longtime partner Stedman Graham said, “It’s up to the people. She would absolutely do it.” After headlines, we’ll hear Oprah Winfrey’s powerful lifetime achievement award acceptance speech, and we’ll speak with Puerto Rican activist and journalist Rosa Clemente and labor organizer Saru Jayaraman, two of the social justice activists who attended the Golden Globes this year at the invitation of Hollywood actresses.
In New York City, Fred Bass, the owner of the massive book emporium The Strand, has died at the age of 89. Over his lifetime, Bass transformed his father’s small bookshop into the largest used bookstore in the world. It’s slogan is “18 Miles of Books.” Fred Bass died on Wednesday in Manhattan of congestive heart failure at the age of 89.
And in breaking news, fire crews are responding to a fire at Trump Tower in Manhattan this morning. Officials say the small fire broke out on the roof of the tower. Officials are investigating the cause of the blaze, and no injuries have been reported at this time. President Trump is in Washington, D.C., and was not inside the tower at the time of the fire.