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10 things you need to know today: February 12, 2018

Harold Maass
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1.

White House to unveil budget, infrastructure proposals

The White House on Monday is releasing its 2019 budget proposal, in which President Trump renews calls for deep cuts to non-defense spending. The budget will call for "an aggressive set of spending reforms" to slash the federal deficit by $3 trillion over a decade, out of a shortfall currently estimated at $10 trillion. Trump also will seek a big boost in funding for the Pentagon to make sure the U.S. has a "ready, larger, and more lethal military." The White House also will unveil an infrastructure plan that proposes to leverage $200 billion in federal spending into $1.5 trillion worth of infrastructure projects, mostly by asking state and local governments to match the funds by as much as a 4-to-1 ratio. Both proposals face long odds in Congress. [The Washington Post, The New York Times]

2.

Pence says U.S. ready for talks with North Korea

North Korean state media said Monday that the country's high-level delegation to South Korea for the start of the Winter Olympics made a "meaningful" contribution toward improving cross-border relations. During the visit, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit her brother. Moon expressed interest but said Pyongyang must meet certain conditions first, including showing willingness to deal with the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who attended the Olympics' opening ceremony to counter North Korea's charm offensive, told The Washington Post that the U.S. was ready to hold talks with the North after an initial meeting between Pyongyang and Seoul. He said the U.S. and South Korea had agreed on terms for diplomatic engagement with Pyongyang. [The Korea Herald, The Washington Post]

3.

Senate to start immigration debate

The Senate on Monday is scheduled start a debate on immigration that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed to as part of the spending deal that ended last week's brief government shutdown. McConnell is expected to present a bill open to a free-flowing amendment process in which senators will discuss increasing border security measures, a priority for President Trump and many other Republicans, and restoring protections for so-called DREAMers, young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. "We're going to have something in the Senate that we haven't had in a while," said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). "It's a real debate on an issue where we really don't know what the outcome is going to be." [ NBC News]

4.

Trump tells paper neither side looking to make peace in Israel-Palestinian conflict

President Trump said in an interview with an Israeli newspaper published Sunday that neither side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appears to be working toward a resolution. "Right now, I would say the Palestinians are not looking to make peace, they are not looking to make peace. And I am not necessarily sure that Israel is looking to make peace," Trump said. "So we are just going to have to see what happens." The Palestinians have rejected America's role as a broker in peace talks since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and announced plans to move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. The Palestinians also claim part of the city as the capital of their future state. Trump said negotiations would still determine the "specific boundaries" of each side's claim on Jerusalem. [Israel Hayom, CNN]

5.

U.K. threatens to cut Oxfam aid after Haiti abuse report

The British government is considering ending aid to the charity group Oxfam over reports that some of its workers sexually exploited survivors of Haiti's devastating 2010 earthquake, Britain's international development secretary, Penny Mordaunt, told BBC News on Sunday. An Oxfam investigation into reports that workers hired prostitutes in 2011 resulted in the firing of four people. Three others resigned, including the charity's country director, Roland van Hauwermeiren. Oxfam's leadership has been criticized for failing to report details of the scandal. Mordaunt is meeting with Oxfam leaders on Monday, but said it was clear they did "absolutely the wrong thing." Oxfam Chair of Trustees Caroline Thomson said she shared the "anger and shame" over the behavior, reported Friday in Britain's The Times. [BBC News, Reuters]

6.

New York sues Harvey Weinstein and Weinstein Co.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Sunday filed a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein, his brother Robert Weinstein, and the Weinstein Company for alleged violations of civil rights and business laws. The suit cites accusations about mistreatment of employees by Weinstein when he was the film production company's CEO. Among other allegations, the lawsuit says Weinstein told several employees that he would "kill" them. New York says the company "employed one group of female employees whose primary job it was to accompany (Harvey) to events and to facilitate (his) sexual conquests." Schneiderman's investigation is ongoing, but he reportedly wanted to make sure the sale of The Weinstein Company wouldn't make Weinstein's enablers rich while depriving his victims of ways to seek compensation. [USA Today]

7.

Militants attack India army base

Militants attacked an Indian army base in the Jammu region, killing at least five soldiers and a civilian, army officials said Sunday. Indian officials blamed the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad for the attack, one of the deadliest against India's army in recent years, although no group immediately claimed responsibility. Four militants, dressed in army uniforms and armed with AK-47 assault rifles and grenades, entered the family quarters of army officers early in the morning and gunned down two soldiers and injured at least nine others, including children. The militants were cornered and killed by army Special Forces after a 24-hour firefight. [The New York Times]

8.

Police: Gunman kills four, self in Kentucky

A gunman fatally shot two people at a rural Kentucky home on Saturday, then went to another home where police said he fatally shot two other people, then himself. The shootings at the second location occurred as police searched for the killer. "This has been a horrific murder spree," said Johnson County Sheriff Dwayne Price. "There are no words to describe the heartbreak in seeing four lives taken due to the actions of one man." Authorities identified the suspected gunman as Joseph Nickell. The victims were identified as the suspect's mother, Arlene Nickell, and his father, James Nickell, who both died at the rural home, and his girlfriend, Lindsey Vanhoose, and her mother, Patricia Vanhoose. [Reuters]

9.

Explosion knocks out power in parts of Puerto Rico

An explosion and fire at an electrical substation knocked out power to much of northern Puerto Rico late Sunday, marking a setback for the U.S. Caribbean territory in the effort to fully restore an electrical system devastated by Hurricane Maria five months ago. Parts of the area thrust back into darkness had only recently regained power. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) said several towns lost electricity, including parts of the capital, San Juan. However, PREPA said it expected to restore service to most of the affected areas within a day. As of Sunday, about a third of the utility company's customers remained without electricity due to the September hurricane. [CBS News, NPR]

10.

Mirai Nagasu becomes 1st U.S. woman to land triple axel at Olympics

Mirai Nagasu made history at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on Monday morning, becoming the first American female figure skater to land a triple axel during Olympic competition. The 24-year-old stunned the audience during her free skate by even attempting the difficult move, which involves a forward takeoff and three and a half rotations in the air. The feat helped the U.S. win its second straight bronze medal in the team competition. Only two other American women have successfully completed a triple axel in competition: Tonya Harding in 1991 and Kimmie Meissner in 2005. Nagasu landed her first competitive triple axel at the 2017 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic. [People, Los Angeles Times]

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