Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 26, 2017

Trump signs order to start building border wall, the Dow breaks the 20,000 barrier, and more


Trump signs order to start building Mexico border wall

President Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order calling for "immediate construction of a physical wall" on the Mexican border, a key component in his promised immigration crackdown. He said the project would start within months with taxpayer money, and later he would focus on making Mexico pay for it, as he promised in his campaign. Trump signed another order sharply cutting the number of refugees to be welcomed into the U.S., and temporarily blocking entry by Syrians and others from "terror prone" countries. He also targeted funding for so-called sanctuary cities that have refused to cooperate with immigration officials.


The Dow breaks the 20,000 barrier

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wednesday hit 20,000 for the first time in its 120-year history, closing about 150 points higher at 20,069. The breach of the psychologically significant threshold came after a post-election rally helped the blue-chip index make its second-fastest 1,000-point climb ever. Stocks have risen as investors bet that Trump's promised tax and regulation cuts, along with big spending on infrastructure and other pro-business policies, will give the U.S. economy a boost. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite also hit records, both rising by nearly 1 percent. Global stocks surged on Thursday.


Trump repeats groundless claim of millions of illegal votes for Clinton

President Trump on Wednesday repeated a baseless claim that Hillary Clinton only beat him in the popular vote because three million illegal votes were cast for her, and, in a Twitter post, he called for a major investigation into voter fraud. The push came even though his own legal team, countering Green Party candidate Jill Stein's demand for recounts in three states, flatly stated that all available evidence indicates the vote "was not tainted by fraud or mistake." Trump repeated the unfounded voter fraud claim Wednesday in his first interview since he took office, saying that the illegal voters "all voted for Hillary."


House committee looks into suspected Russian election meddling

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence announced Wednesday that it would investigate suspected efforts by Russia to influence the November elections. The committee already has started receiving documents, and expects the incoming intelligence leadership to "fully and promptly support our requests for information related to the inquiry," Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the committee's ranking member, said in a statement. The committee plans to look into suspected Russian hacking of Democrats, how the U.S. government responded to information about the hacks, and possible leaks of classified information. "This issue is not about the party, but about the country," Schiff said. "The committee will continue to follow the facts wherever they may lead."


Mexico's president faces pressure to cancel White House visit over border wall

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday indicated that he was considering canceling his planned Tuesday visit to the White House over President Trump's executive order calling for the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. He said he would consult with lawmakers on whether to go. Mexican politicians and historians pressured Peña Nieto to snub Trump, with some using Twitter to call Trump's action "an offense to Mexico," a "slap in the face," and a "monument to lies." Peña Nieto said building a wall "far from uniting us, divides us." He also reiterated that Mexico would not pay for the wall, as Trump claims. House Speaker Paul Ryan said Congress would pay to get the $8 billion to $14 billion wall started, then focus on "getting Mexico to contribute."


Trump resort doubles initiation fee

The Trump Organization's Palm Beach resort, Mar-a-Lago, reportedly doubled its initiation fee to $200,000 effective Jan. 1, less than three weeks before President Trump's inauguration. The $14,000 annual dues remain unchanged. The club lowered its initiation fee from $200,000 to $100,000 in 2012 due to declining membership. The club reportedly had been considering a fee hike, although the Trump Organization did not immediately comment. Former President Barack Obama's former ethics lawyer, Norm Eisen, said the move was a "not very subtle" attempt to exploit Trump's power. "This type of naked profiteering off of a government office is what I would expect from King Louis XVI or his modern kleptocratic equivalents, not an American president," Eisen said.


North Korean defector says Kim Jong Un's control is crumbling

The highest-ranking North Korean defector in years said Wednesday that the days of Kim Jong Un's regime in the isolated communist nation are "numbered." The defector, Thae Yong-ho, was North Korea's No. 2 diplomat in London when he fled to South Korea with his family last summer. He predicted "more defections of my colleagues" as corruption and discontent disrupted the government's attempts to keep outside information from its citizens. "The traditional structures of the North Korean system are crumbling," he said in Seoul.


Greenpeace activists hang 'Resist' banner on crane near White House

Seven Greenpeace activists climbed a 270-foot-tall crane four blocks from the White House and unfurled a banner reading "Resist" on Wednesday. The effort was intended as a continuation to protests against President Trump that took place over the weekend following his Friday inauguration, Greenpeace spokesman Travis Nichols said. "The activists from around the country are still in place, calling for those who want to resist Trump's attacks on environmental, social, economic, and educational justice to contribute to a better America," the environmental group said. The crane was clearly visible in photographs taken from the opposite side of the White House.


Usain Bolt loses one of his Olympic golds over teammate's doping

The International Olympic Committee on Wednesday stripped superstar Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt of his 2008 gold medal in the 4x100-meter relay after teammate Nesta Carter was found guilty of doping at the Beijing Games. The loss dropped Bolt's gold-medal total to eight from the Beijing, London, and Rio Summer Olympics. Carter's samples, taken a day after the race, initially tested clean, but the IOC retested frozen samples from the Games using new methods last year and found the prohibited substance methylhexaneamine. Bolt learned of the preliminary retest results in June, and said he was "not too pleased" about the news. "It's heartbreaking," he said, "but it's one of those things."


Mary Tyler Moore dies at 80

Six-time Emmy Award winning actress Mary Tyler Moore, best known for her roles on The Dick Van Dyke Show in the 1960s and her eponymous sitcom in the '70s, has died, her representative, Mara Buxbaum, told The Hollywood Reporter. She was 80. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was one of the first sitcoms to feature a single working woman as a main character, and Moore's portrayal of the character, Mary Richards, was considered groundbreaking and authentic. Her TV characters were wholesome and upbeat, but she received an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of an icy mother trying to connect with her son in Robert Redford's 1980 film Ordinary People, which won for Best Picture.


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