U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: February 12, 2017

Jung Yeon-Je/Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. North Korea test-fires ballistic missile into Sea of Japan
North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan between Japan and North Korea on Sunday, a provocation likely timed to coincide with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s weekend meeting with President Trump. “North Korea’s most recent missile launch is absolutely intolerable. North Korea must fully comply with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” Abe said in in Palm Beach, Florida, where he was staying with the president. “I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent,” Trump remarked at the joint news conference. South Korea has also condemned the test, which is believed to have used a midrange missile, not an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear weapon.

Source: CNN, Politico

2. Protesters demonstrate nationwide over federal Planned Parenthood funding
Hot on the heels of January’s annual March for Life demonstration in Washington, more than 200 protests in 45 states were held Saturday to oppose federal funding for Planned Parenthood. About 150 counter-demonstrations were scheduled as well, with the size of the combined protests ranging from dozens to thousands of people. Government funding is Planned Parenthood’s single largest source of revenue, mostly via Medicaid, though it also receives corporate and individual donations, as well as clinic revenue. Planned Parenthood supporters note that federal money can fund abortions only in a few circumstances, while critics argue those limits are meaningless because money is fungible.

Source: ABC News, Reuters

3. Advocacy groups clash with feds over immigration enforcement surge
The nature of a surge in arrests of undocumented immigrants this week has become a point of contention between immigration advocacy groups and the federal government. Washington maintains Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which conducted the raids that led to several hundred arrests, is simply pursuing business as usual. “This operation was in the planning stages before the current administration issued its [immigration] executive order,” said David Marin, an ICE official in California. With the support of some congressional Democrats, activists aren’t so sure. “These activities have caused fear and uncertainty for many constituents,” Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) said in a letter to ICE with a list of questions about the arrests.

Source: CNN, The Associated Press

4. Trump products dropped by Sears, Kmart
Retailers Sears and Kmart, which share a parent company, announced Saturday they will no longer carry items from President Trump’s brand of home products. The decision was described as part of a broader “initiative to optimize…online product assortment,” but it has inevitably been linked to Nordstrom’s recent announcement that it would no longer sell Ivanka Trump products. The Nordstrom decision was likewise cast as a matter of business, not politics, but the president took personal umbrage. “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom,” he tweeted after that news. On Saturday, Trump again tweeted in Ivanka’s defense, saying she has been “abused” by the media.

Source: ABC News, Politico

5. Trump bashes Mark Cuban’s intelligence after his warning to CEOs
Dallas Mavericks owner and billionaire Mark Cuban warned American CEOs to be careful in their dealings with President Trump in comments published Friday by The Star-Telegram, a newspaper in Fort Worth, Texas. “Do what you think is right,” Cuban said. “Be an American citizen first. In the bigger scheme of things, our country benefits from peaceful activism a lot more than it benefits from one more shoe being sold, or one more basketball ticket being sold, for that matter.” Sundaymorning, Trump responded on Twitter. “I know Mark Cuban well,” he wrote. “He backed me big-time but I wasn’t interested in taking all of his calls. He’s not smart enough to run for president!” Though Cuban did initially praise Trump’s campaign, he ultimately endorsed Hillary Clinton.

Source: The Star-Telegram, Sporting News

6. Beyoncé, Adele expected to dominate 2017 Grammys
The 2017 Grammy Awards will be held Sunday evening, hosted by late night’s James Corden and featuring special tributes to Prince and George Michael. Performances are scheduled for Adele (who has five nominations), Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Chance The Rapper, Daft Punk, Lady Gaga, and Metallica, among others. There is speculation that Beyoncé, who has nine nominations, the most of any artist, may perform as well. The show will also mark Beyoncé’s first public appearance since her announcement that she is pregnant with twins. The Grammys will air on CBS beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern, with a red carpet preview starting at 7:30 p.m.

Source: Entertainment Weekly, E News

7. WWII-era bomb discovery in Greece forces evacuation, museum trip for refugees
An unexploded bomb from World War II was removed from under a gas station in Thessaloniki, Greece, on Sunday. Authorities ordered evacuation of more than 70,000 people so the 500-pound weapon could be transported and safely defused at a firing range. Among the evacuees was a group of about 450 Syrian refugees living in a refugee camp housed in a former toilet paper factory nearby. They were taken on a trip to the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki while the bomb was deactivated, an outing organized at the refugees’ request as a respite from what are described as “prison-like” living conditions in the factory.

Source: Reuters, The Associated Press

8. Yale University to rename Calhoun College after years of controversy
Yale University announced Saturday it will change the name of Calhoun College, one of the school’s 12 undergraduate residences, so it no longer honors John C. Calhoun, a 19th century Yale alumnus who served in multiple Cabinet roles and as vice president of the United States. “Calhoun’s legacy as a white supremacist and a national leader who passionately promoted slavery as a ‘positive good’ fundamentally conflicts with Yale’s mission and values,” said Yale President Peter Salovey. The college will be renamed to honor Grace Murray Hopper, a Yale mathematics alumna and Navy rear admiral who was a pioneer in the field of computer science.

Source: CNN, The Associated Press

9. Volunteers help rescue 300 beached whales in New Zealand
Volunteers in New Zealand struggled this weekend to keep pace with hundreds of pilot whales that accidentally beached themselves and needed assistance returning to the sea. A group of more than 400 whales were first found on the beach Friday. About 300 of them died before they could be rescued, but roughly 100 members of the pod were refloated. Saturday morning, some 240 additional whales were beached in the same three-mile stretch, almost all of them different from the rescued 100. On Sunday, rescue efforts were completed after a high tide allowed around 200 of the new whales to refloat themselves.

Source: The Associated Press, The Week

10. Melissa McCarthy returns to SNL as Sean Spicer
Melissa McCarthy reprised her role as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer in Saturday Night Live‘s cold open this week. As “Spicey,” an increasingly agitated McCarthy explains President Trump’s plan for “extreme vetting” of would-be immigrants and refugees using Barbie dolls. Of one, Spicey declares, “We know she is okay, because she is blonde, and so she gets in. Easy. We understand that.” Next, a Moana doll applies for a visa. “Uh oh,” Spicey says. “We are going to pat her down, and then we are going to read her emails and if we don’t like the answers — which we won’t — boom, Guantanamo Bay.” The first time McCarthy played Spicer, he responded with amusement, while President Trump was reportedly irritated by the sketch.

Source: Saturday Night Live, The Washington Post

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