U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: January 15, 2017

Alex Brandon/Associated Press


1. Trump tangles with civil rights leader on MLK weekend
Civil rights leader and longtime Rep. John Lewis of Georgia on Fridaysaid he does not consider President-elect Donald Trump “a legitimate president” because of Russian efforts to manipulate the presidential election. Saturday morning, Trump hit back, attacking Lewis on Twitter as “all talk, talk, talk — no action or results” and telling him to “spend more time on fixing and helping” his “crime infested” district. As cross-partisan observers were quick to point out, Lewis is a civil rights leader who marched at Selma with Martin Luther King Jr., who is commemorated in a federal holiday on Monday. “John Lewis and his ‘talk’ have changed the world,” tweeted Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), while Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) simply posted, “Dude, just stop.” Saturday evening, Trump responded to the criticism with another tweet: “Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S. I can use all the help I can get!”

Source: The Week, NBC News

2. 18 congressional Democrats plan inauguration boycott
At least 18 House Democrats will not attend President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremonies this Friday, with some planning to leave for their home districts and others intending to march with protesters in Washington. Among those boycotting is Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the civil rights leader whom Trump criticized as “all talk” in the weekend before Martin Luther King Day. House Democratic leadership, however, will be there. “That’s my responsibility,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). “It is the wonderful thing about our country, the peaceful transfer of power.” Broader anti-Trump protests started in Washington Saturday, with about 2,000 people rallying on the National Mall.

Source: Politico, CNN

3. Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate Trump dossier
The Senate Intelligence Committee launched a bipartisan investigation Friday night into the unverified dossier on President-elect Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia and will use “subpoenas if necessary” to get testimony from the Trump team and relevant members of the Obama administration. “The committee will follow the intelligence wherever it leads,” said a joint statement from Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the committee’s chair, and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the vice chair. “We will conduct this inquiry expeditiously, and we will get it right.” Trump and the Kremlin both continue to deny the legitimacy of the entire dossier.

Source: Roll Call, The Hill

4. 4,000 U.S. troops arrive in Poland to stare down Russia
Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo welcomed 4,000 U.S. troops to her country in a ceremony on Saturday, hailing their arrival as “an important day for Poland, for Europe, for our common defense.” The deployment is intended as a message to Moscow and is part of a larger U.S. troop buildup in Eastern Europe, pitting NATO allies against Russia in something of a Cold War redux. A representative of the Kremlin said Russia sees the troops “as a threat to us,” and Russian President Vladimir Putin said it is “stupid and unrealistic” to believe Russia has plans for European invasion. President-elect Donald Trump has indicated a preference for better relations with Russia and could halt the buildup once in office.

Source: CBS News, CNN

5. Paris hosts Mideast peace talks without Israelis, Palestinians, or Trump team
On Sunday, diplomats from 70 nations — not including representatives of Israel, Palestine, or the incoming Donald Trump administration — are meeting in Paris “to officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The goal is to demonstrate to Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the breadth of international backing of a Palestinian state, but Netanyahu dismissed the Paris meeting as “futile” and “rigged” against Israel. Outgoing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will join the talks, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas initially planned to attend before his schedule changed. The Israelis and Palestinians have not engaged in peace negotiations with each other since 2014.

Source: France24, BBC News

6. Theresa May to detail Brexit plan Tuesday
British Prime Minister Theresa May will detail her plan for Brexit, the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, in a major speech Tuesday, urging her country to “unite to make a success and build a truly global Britain.” Her government has been under fire for delaying its debut of a specific Brexit process, with critics accusing May of “muddled thinking.” Meanwhile, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, the British analog to the U.S. treasury secretary, said the U.K. will “do whatever we have to do” to stay economically competitive following Brexit. “If we have no access to the European market, if we are closed off … we could suffer from economic damage at least in the short-term,” he said. “In this case, we could be forced to change our economic model.”

Source: CNN, BBC News

7. SpaceX successfully launches, lands rocket
Private space exploration project SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket Saturday, a triumph after a previous launch attempt in September abruptly ended with an explosion on the launch pad. SpaceX was also able to retrieve the rocket’s first stage booster intact using a drone ship, a reuse effort that makes space travel considerably more affordable. The rocket took 10 satellites into space and marks SpaceX’s seventh successful launch. The company plans to put another 60 satellites into orbit as part of its contract with Iridium, a satellite communications company. Later in 2017, SpaceX may begin testing a rocket that can carry larger loads as well as a manned spacecraft.

Source: CNN, The Atlantic

8. Protests shut down UC Davis speech by Breitbart‘s Milo Yiannopoulos
A crush of student protesters shut down a Friday evening event featuring controversial Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos and “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli at UC Davis before either man’s speech could begin. Chanting “Say it loud, say it clear, racists are not welcome here,” protesters blocked access to the venue until campus security officers informed the UC Davis College Republicans, who were hosting the talks, that the event could not continue with guaranteed safety for attendees. Yiannopoulos on Facebook Saturday disputed the university’s account, accusing the school of ignoring reports of protester violence.

Source: CNN, Milo Yiannopoulos

9. Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years
After 146 years of putting on “The Greatest Show on Earth,” Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will shut down in May. The decision was announced Saturday night on the circus website and cited a variety of factors including changing public tastes, high operating costs, declining ticket sales, and lengthy legal battles with animal rights activists. The circus retired its performing elephants last year in response to public and legal pressure only to see attendance plummet once the iconic show animals were gone. Ringling Bros.’ parent company, Feld Entertainment, says it will be able to transfer some circus employees to other shows it operates, like Disney on Ice.

Source: NPR, Chicago Tribune

10. American Apparel to close all its U.S. stores
American Apparel will close all 110 of its U.S. stores within 100 days, the company announced Saturday, after being purchased by Montreal-based Gildan Activewear in an $88 million deal that does not include the brick-and-mortar locations. Known for its risqué marketing and American-made products, the clothing retailer was once valued at $1 billion, but it has not turned a profit in seven years. Its store closures follow similar recent announcements from brands including Macy’s, The Limited, CVS, and Sears.

Source: Adweek, The A.V. Club

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