Trump calls for end of resistance politics in State of Union
WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing a divided Congress for the first time, President Donald Trump on Tuesday called on Washington to reject "the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution." He warned emboldened Democrats that "ridiculous partisan investigations" into his administration and businesses could hamper a surging American economy.
Trump's appeals for bipartisanship in his State of the Union address clashed with the rancorous atmosphere he has helped cultivate in the nation's capital — as well as the desire of most Democrats to block his agenda during his next two years in office. Their opposition was on vivid display as Democratic congresswomen in the audience formed a sea of white in a nod to early 20th-century suffragettes.
Trump spoke at a critical moment in his presidency, staring down a two-year stretch that will determine whether he is re-elected or leaves office in defeat. His speech sought to shore up Republican support that had eroded slightly during the recent government shutdown and previewed a fresh defense against Democrats as they ready a round of investigations into every aspect of his administration.
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"If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation," he declared. Lawmakers in the cavernous House chamber sat largely silent.
Looming over the president's address was a fast-approaching Feb. 15 deadline to fund the government and avoid another shutdown. Democrats have refused to acquiesce to his demands for a border wall, and Republicans are increasingly unwilling to shut down the government to help him fulfill his signature campaign pledge. Nor does the GOP support the president's plan to declare a national emergency if Congress won't fund the wall.
AP FACT CHECK: Trump's claims in his State of Union address
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press is fact-checking remarks from President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech. Here's a look at some of the claims we've examined:
TRUMP: "These (border) agents will tell you where walls go up, illegal crossings go way, way down ... San Diego used to have the most illegal border crossings in our country. In response, a strong security wall was put in place. This powerful barrier almost completely ended illegal crossings ... Simply put, walls work and walls save lives."
THE FACTS: It's a lot more complicated than that.
Yes, Border Patrol arrests in the San Diego sector plummeted 96 percent from nearly 630,000 in 1986 to barely 26,000 in 2017, a period during which walls were built. But the crackdown pushed illegal crossings to less-patrolled and more remote Arizona deserts, where thousands died in the heat. Arrests in Tucson in 2000 nearly matched San Diego's peak.
Trump to meet North Korean leader Feb. 27-28 in Vietnam
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he will hold a two-day summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un Feb. 27-28 in Vietnam to continue his efforts to persuade Kim to give up his nuclear weapons.
Trump has said his outreach to Kim and their first meeting last June in Singapore opened a path to peace. But there is not yet a concrete plan for how denuclearization could be implemented.
Denuclearizing North Korea is something that has eluded the U.S. for more than two decades, since it was first learned that North Korea was close to acquiring the means for nuclear weapons.
"As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula," Trump said in his State of the Union address.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Congress last week that U.S. intelligence officials do not believe Kim will eliminate his nuclear weapons or the capacity to build more because he believes they are key to the survival of the regime. Satellite video taken since the June summit has indicated North Korea is continuing to produce nuclear materials at its weapons factories.
Yearbook staff disagree on whether racist photo was mix-up
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The racist yearbook photo that could sink Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's career may have been mistakenly placed on his profile page — but even if it were put there intentionally, it's unlikely that many students would have noticed, according to alumni who put together the publication or submitted pictures to it 35 years ago.
Dr. Giac Chan Nguyen-Tan, a physician practicing in Connecticut, remembers that a page he laid out for the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook was changed without his knowledge before publication.
"Could (the offensive photo) have been slipped in there? Absolutely," he said, adding that he doesn't remember laying out Northam's page, which ended up including a photo of one person in blackface and another dressed in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robes.
Fellow yearbook staffer Dr. William Elwood disagrees. Elwood said he doubts any photos were mixed up — and he says it's unlikely that someone could have pulled a prank because a limited number of people had keys to the yearbook room. He said he took his job seriously and received no complaints after the yearbook was published.
Regardless of how the photo got there, it's possible not many noticed what was in the yearbook; few students enrolled in the intense medical school program took the publication very seriously — or even looked at it — after it was published, several classmates said. For many, the yearbook was simply not a priority. Northam and his former roommate, Dr. John "Rob" Marsh, rushed off to the military immediately after graduation. Others embarked on their residencies.
Women in white: Dem solidarity stands out at State of Union
WASHINGTON (AP) — The women of the House wore white. The men wore dark suits. And the contrast laid bare the growing gender gap between Democrats and Republicans.
Wearing the color of the suffragists, the Democratic women of the House put on a stunning display of solidarity during the State of the Union address Tuesday.
They paid tribute to the women who came before them and gave a nod to their own achievement, as more women than ever are now representatives in the House.
There were white pantsuits, of course. But also sheath power dresses. Even a puffy zip snow vest. Hats for some. Shawls and scarves.
In the chamber, there has long been a growing gender divide as Democrats elect far more women than Republicans. The House now has more than 100 women in office. But the vast majority of them, about 90, are Democrats. House Republican women number just over a dozen.
Vietnam site for 2nd Trump-Kim summit may bring wins for all
BANGKOK (AP) — Vietnam's selection as the venue for the second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is largely a matter of convenience and security, but not without bigger stakes.
Washington's goal for the talks Feb. 27-28 is for North Korea to agree give up its nuclear weapons. North Korea frames the issue more broadly, seeking a removal of the "nuclear threat" from U.S. military forces in South Korea.
Host Vietnam hopes to boost its diplomatic leverage against its powerful neighbor, China, which contests waters in the South China Sea claimed by Hanoi.
But Vietnam's history as a U.S. adversary that transitioned on its own terms to a dynamic free-market economy under a communist political system suggests a larger meaning for the summit.
"By choosing Vietnam, the two leaders send a strong strategic message to the world that they are willing to make a breakthrough decision to turn an enemy into a friend and together make the world a better place, following the example of the U.S.-Vietnam relationship," said Le Hong Hiep, a research fellow at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.
Pope publicly acknowledges clergy sexual abuse of nuns
ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis on Tuesday publicly acknowledged the scandal of priests and bishops sexually abusing nuns and vowed to do more to fight the problem, the latest sign that there is no end in sight to the Catholic Church's abuse crisis — and that it now has a reckoning from the #MeToo movement.
Francis admitted to the problem for the first time in public during a news conference while returning to Rome from the United Arab Emirates. The acknowledgment comes just two weeks before he hosts an unprecedented gathering of bishops to craft a global response to the scandal of priestly predators who target children and the superiors who covered up the crimes.
Francis was asked about priests who target adult women — the religious sisters who are the backbone of the Catholic Church's education, health care and social service ministries around the globe — and whether the Holy See might consider a similar universal approach to combat that issue.
"It's not that everyone does this, but there have been priests and bishops who have," Francis told reporters. "And I think that it's continuing because it's not like once you realize it that it stops. It continues. And for some time we've been working on it."
"Should we do something more? Yes. Is there the will? Yes. But it's a path that we have already begun," Francis said.
Mississippi considers abortion ban after fetal heartbeat
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi lawmakers are considering what could become one of the strictest abortion laws in the country. Bills that passed legislative committees Tuesday would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has said he will sign either House Bill 732 or Senate Bill 2116 , which are moving to the full House and Senate for more work. Supporters and opponents anticipate a court fight.
An Iowa judge struck down a similar law there last month.
Several states could consider tighter abortion restrictions to get a challenge up to the more conservative U.S. Supreme Court to try to overturn the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
Mississippi has some of the tightest abortion laws in the U.S., with a 24-hour waiting period and parental consent for minors required, with some exceptions. The state last year enacted a law banning abortion after 15 weeks, and a federal judge declared it unconstitutional.
Red carpet nixed after Liam Neeson reveals racist thoughts
NEW YORK (AP) — The red carpet for the premiere of Liam Neeson's latest film was canceled Tuesday, a day after a British newspaper published an interview in which the actor discussed wanting to kill a random black person nearly 40 years ago when a close friend told him she had been raped by a black man.
Organizers of the New York premiere of "Cold Pursuit" said they were cancelling interviews and photo opportunities for the film hours after Neeson appeared on "Good Morning America" to explain his past racist thoughts. He told interviewer Robin Roberts he is not a racist and moved past his desire for violence after seeking help from a priest and from friends.
Neeson said in an interview published Monday by The Independent that after learning his friend's attacker was black, he "went up and down areas with a cosh (stick or truncheon)" hoping a black person "would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him."
"It took me a week, maybe a week and a half, to go through that," Neeson said.
Neeson told Roberts he had asked about the race of the attacker, along with other descriptive characteristics. He said Tuesday the topic came up because the interviewer asked him about how he tapped into the feelings of revenge that he displays in "Cold Pursuit," which tells the story of a father who seeks violent revenge for his son's death.
21 Savage's English origins stun fans of the Atlanta rapper
LOS ANGELES (AP) — It was a shock for fans when 21 Savage was taken into custody by U.S. immigration agents in Georgia. It was an even bigger shock to learn he had been an immigrant in the first place.
The Grammy-nominated rapper and his music are so deeply associated with Atlanta that the notion he was actually born in England and brought to the U.S. as a child felt downright bizarre.
Scores of surprised tweets came after his Sunday arrest. Memes bloomed that some called cruel under the circumstances, including one of him dressed as a Buckingham Palace guard, along with an old video of him talking in a mock English accent about tea and crumpets. While the United Kingdom is responsible for rap icon Slick Rick, he also grew up in America, and its rappers traditionally have not had much success in America.
"It seems so outlandish that the prototypical Atlanta rapper is not from Atlanta," said Samuel Hine, a writer and editor at GQ who researched 21 Savage and spent a day with him for a profile in the magazine last year. "I think that's why so many people were sort of making fun of him, and making memes."
By all accounts, few knew his real birthplace, and it certainly wasn't publicly known. His accent gave no indication, and his birth name, She'yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, could come from any number of birthplaces.