Top News Stories for Today – February 13, 2017
Trump and Trudeau set for talks
Donald Trump hosts Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House for talks Monday that are expected to include the launch of a joint initiative for female business leaders and entrepreneurs. Trump and Trudeau will hold a series of meetings, including what the White House called a roundtable “on the advancement of women entrepreneurs and business leaders.”
Trudeau’s schedule for the one-day visit also includes talks with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Not specified on the public agenda but likely to come up in Monday’s meetings are economic issues, particularly trade. Canada is highly dependent on the US market, which accounts for 75 percent of its exports. Trump and Trudeau also have vastly different views when it comes to immigration. A day after Trump signed the travel ban, Trudeau wrote on Twitter: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.” VOA
Michael Flynn in trouble with Trump
National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has apologized to White House officials for the drama surrounding his pre-inaugural conversations with Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak, an administration official told The Wall Street Journal on Sunday, and his future at the White House is up in the air. Flynn had said he and Kislyak never discussed sanctions imposed over Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials backed him up. Flynn now admits he did speak with the ambassador about sanctions, multiple times, and there are transcripts of his phone calls, officials say.
Trump has confided in some people that Flynn is no longer welcome in the White House, while others say he has expressed confidence in him, WSJ reports. Some insiders are hopeful that Flynn will resign on his own accord. Still, “people close to Flynn” tell The Washington Post that Flynn feels safe in his job, in part because firing him would amount to an embarrassing admission of guilt and chaos in the Trump White House. The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Week
N Korea declares missile test success
North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA said Monday that its missile launch on Sunday, supervised by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was a successful test of a new weapon it claims can carry a nuclear warhead.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launch “absolutely intolerable,” and said North Korea “must comply with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.” Donald Trump’s condemnation of North Korea’s missile test leaves unclear what new policies he may pursue. Standing alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who called North Korea’s missile launch “absolutely intolerable,” Trump said, “The United States of America is behind Japan, our great ally, 100 percent.”
The UN Security Council is set to hold emergency talks Monday about the missile launch. US, Japan and South Korea requested the session, which is scheduled for the afternoon. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that China opposes the launch, which violated UN Security Council resolutions. NBC News, VOA
Thousands in California evacuated damaged dam area
Officials in northern California ordered tens of thousands of people to evacuate Sunday, warning that a spillway at the tallest dam in the United States could fail. The focus of their concern is the Oroville Dam, where damage to the main spillway last week has been followed by weakness in an emergency spillway.
The dam is 235 meters high and holds back Lake Oroville, playing a role in both California’s water and power systems. The spillways allow water to drain from behind the dam in a controlled manner, but the damage at the Oroville Dam has come as snow and rainfall rapidly pushed up the water level. Authorities said there was no threat of the dam itself failing, but warned that the substantial flow of water that would come if the spillways gave way would be extremely dangerous to those living in valley towns below. VOA
Adele sweeps the 59th annual Grammy Awards
Adele took home the top honors Sunday night at the 59th annual Grammy Awards, winning Album of the Year for 25 and Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance for “Hello.” Chance the Rapper was named Best New Artist and also won the Best Rap Performance award for “No Problem,” featuring Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, and Best Rap Album for Coloring Book, while Beyoncé won Best Urban Contemporary Album for Lemonade and her sister, Solange, won Best R&B Performance for “Cranes in the Sky.”
The ceremony, hosted by The Late Late Show’s James Corden, featured performances by Beyoncé, Lady Gaga with Metallica, Adele, The Weeknd, and Bruno Mars, with tributes to Prince and George Michael. NPR, The Week
Sweden defends officials wearing headscarves in Iran
The Swedish government has defended its decision to have its officials wear headscarves during a trip to Iran, saying that failing to do so would have broken the law. Trade Minister Ann Linde led a business team last week and faced criticism for wearing a headscarf, or hijab. Sweden says it has the world’s first “feminist government”.
A prominent Iranian women’s rights activist and Swedish politicians have criticised the decision. “It is ruinous to what is called a feminist foreign policy” said Liberal party chief Jan Bjorklund, who said Iran oppressed women through legislation. The Swedish government should have requested that female members of the delegation should not have been required to wear a headscarf, he said, and that if the request were not granted any trade agreements should have been signed in Sweden or a third country.
But Ms Linde told the Aftonbladet newspaper that she was not willing to break Iranian law. She said that since the only other option would be to send an all-male delegation, she was required to wear a headscarf. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven was also in Iran and said he raised human rights issues with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. BBC
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