Top News Stories For Today – Jan 5, 2018
North and South Korea to hold talks
North Korea has accepted South Korea’s invitation to discuss ways to cooperate on the Winter Olympics, and agreed to meet at the border village of Panmunjom on Tuesday, South Korea’s Unification Ministry announced Friday. This will be their first formal dialogue in more than two years, and they will also discuss how to improve ties between the Koreas.
On Thursday, US and South Korea agreed to postpone their joint military exercises — an annual event that North Korea considers preparation for an invasion — until after the Pyeongchang Olympics in February. While some see this as the first step in bettering relations, others believe this could be Pyongyang’s way of causing friction between South Korea and the United States. The Associated Press
WH wants to allow coastal oil drilling
The Trump administration wants to undo more Obama administration policies and allow for nearly unlimited exploration of gas and oil off America’s coasts. Bloomberg calls the plan “unprecedented in its scope,” noting that the Interior Department wants as many as “47 possible auctions of drilling rights in more than 90 percent of the US outer continental shelf, including Pacific waters near California and Atlantic waters near Maine.”
The Interior Department claims its proposal would create jobs and revenue, arguing that there are as much as 3 billion barrels of oil and 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in these waters. “We’re embarking on a new path for energy dominance in America… We are going to become the strongest energy superpower,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said, before adding that “nothing is final” in this proposal. Bloomberg
Fire and Fury publisher pushes up release date
The White House has come out swinging after excerpts from a forthcoming tell-all book — Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House — were published in various news outlets, featuring incendiary quotes from former chief strategist Stephen Bannon. In response, a Trump attorney sent Bannon a letter saying “legal action is imminent,” and demanded the book’s author and publisher halt the book’s release and “issue a full and complete retraction and apology” or else face legal action.
Publisher Henry Holt instead pushed up the released date five days, putting it on sale Friday morning. “We see Fire and Fury as an extraordinary contribution to our national discourse, and are proceeding with the publication of the book,” the publisher said. ABC News, CNN
Apple laptops and phones are weak to security flaw
On Thursday, Apple said that Mac computers, iPhones, and iPads are weak to two hard-to-fix security flaws that cybersecurity experts revealed Wednesday. Windows, Google, and other companies that make PCs, smartphones, servers, and tablets had already acknowledged that their own devices have the same issue.
The flaws — named Spectre and Meltdown — could be used by hackers to exploit the microprocessors, mostly made by Intel, in internet-connected devices to launch a “side-channel analysis attack” to steal files, passwords, photos, and other documents. Intel, the dominant chipmaker, says the vulnerability has been in every microprocessor it has made since 1995, but apparently, nobody realized the risk until a few months ago. No hackers are known to have exploited the vulnerabilities. USA Today, The New York Times
Sear and Macy to close a lot of stores
Sears Holdings announced it is closing 64 Kmart stores and 39 Sears stores. While the rise of online shopping has spelled a quick decline for those brands, even stronger-looking stores are feeling the pinch. Macy’s and JCPenney both saw growth at the end of the year, but the time ahead is expected to be bleak.
Macy’s has also said it plans to close 11 more stores in early 2018. It’s even worse for L Brands, the owner of Victoria’s Secret, Pink and Bath & Body Works, which slashed its fourth quarter profit outlook and saw share values plunge 15%. In 2006, Sear operated more than 3,000 locations in US and a few hundred in Canada. But with the rise of e-commerce, Sears and other traditional retailers have struggled to keep pace with online retailers like Amazon. CNN
Record-breaking cold to blanket US
Record-breaking cold will spread across the Midwest and East Coast on Friday, just a day after a blizzard hammered the Atlantic seaboard with deep snow, fierce winds and icy floods. Wind-chill temperatures in about 25 major US cities were forecast to plunge as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius (also minus 40 Fahrenheit) on Friday — not just uncomfortable, but dangerous.
Thursday’s massive coastal storm brought hurricane-like conditions along the Atlantic Coast, from the Carolinas to Canada. Millions of people were under blizzard warnings and states of emergency. Schools and offices were shuttered, thousands of flights were canceled, and emergency workers scrambled to rescue stranded motorists. Tens of thousands of homes have no power. At least 14 storm-related deaths were reported. VOA
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