Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 15, 2018

Trump remarks complicate push for deals on immigration and spending, African-American pastors criticize Trump ahead of MLK Day, and more


Immigration and shutdown talks upset by vulgar Trump comment

Hopes dimmed for a quick deal to protect some young undocumented immigrants from deportation and avert a looming government shutdown as partisan attacks escalated over allegations that President Trump referred to Haiti and African nations as "shitholes." After earlier saying he didn't recall whether Trump used that language in a White House meeting on immigration, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) said Trump "did not use that word." He called an account by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), who first reported Trump's language, a "gross misrepresentation" of what Trump said. Critics have pounced on the language attributed to Trump, and his stated preference for immigrants from such places such as Norway, as evidence of racism. Trump denied making the vulgar comment and said on Sunday: "I'm not a racist."


African-American pastors criticize Trump ahead of MLK Day

In services ahead of Martin Luther King Day, ministers in black churches across the country on Sunday called out President Trump for reportedly making disparaging remarks about Africa and Haiti in discussions about immigration, expressing disappointment in the direction of the country since Trump took office. The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock told a mostly African-American crowd celebrating King at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was co-pastor, that Trump is "a willfully ignorant, racist, xenophobic, narcissistic con man," and that people of all races must stand up for those Trump denigrates. In Los Angeles, the Rev. J. Edgar Boyd urged his congregation at First African Methodist Episcopal Church to pray for Trump, and asked God to hold the president accountable for "his words, his deeds, and his actions."


Hawaii blames false missile alert on human error and lack of fail-safe measures

Hawaii authorities confirmed Sunday that a false missile alert that provoked panic across the state a day earlier was due to human error and a lack of adequate fail-safe measures during a civil defense training exercise. Hawaii officials said the worker had two options from a drop-down computer menu, "Test missile alert" and "Missile alert," and picked the wrong one. Tensions have risen in Hawaii as President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have traded military threats. A ballistic missile fired from North Korea could reach Hawaii in 30 minutes. Trump said Sunday that the false alert was a "state thing" but that the federal government would "get involved" now. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said an investigation was "well underway."


Back-to-back suicide bombings kill 38 in Baghdad

Two suicide bombers struck a busy street market in central Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 38 people. At least 105 people were wounded. The bombers blew themselves up in Tayran Square during rush hour, when it is typically filled with laborers looking for work. No group immediately claimed responsibility, although the attack was similar to past bombings claimed by the Islamic State. Such attacks had decreased dramatically in the Iraqi capital in recent months as the Iraqi military, backed by the U.S.-led coalition, drove ISIS out of strongholds across the country over the last three years.


British politician breaks up with girlfriend over racist texts about Markle

Henry Bolton, the leader of the anti-EU U.K. Independence Party, said Monday that he had split with his girlfriend after her racist remarks about Prince Harry's fiancee, Meghan Markle. The 54-year-old Bolton's now ex-girlfriend, 25-year-old Jo Marney, was suspended from UKIP after a newspaper published text messages she sent a friend saying Markle, who is of mixed race, would "taint" the royal family with "her seed." Marney has apologized. Bolton said "the romantic side" of his relationship with Marney was over, but that he did not intend to resign as party chief.


Montecito mudslide death toll rises to 20 with 4 others missing

The death toll from last week's Montecito mudslides in Southern California rose to at least 20 people on Sunday. The body of the latest victim, 30-year-old Pinit Sutthithepa, was found on Saturday afternoon. Police are still searching for at least four people in the area. One is Sutthithepa's 2-year-old daughter, Lydia. Authorities said Sunday that the chances of finding more survivors had dwindled so they had transitioned from rescue work to the search-and-recovery phase. "This decision was not made lightly," Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said. At least 73 homes were destroyed and 61 others were damaged.


Actor Aziz Ansari responds to sexual assault allegation

Actor and comedian Aziz Ansari has been accused of sexual assault. In an article published on the women's website babe.net, a 23-year-old woman writing under the pseudonym "Grace" said she went on a date with Ansari last September that ended up being "the worst experience with a man I've ever had." She said the two went back to Ansari's apartment, where the actor took advantage of her, repeatedly pressuring her to engage in sexual acts, despite her objections. "I felt violated," she said. "It took a really long time for me to validate this as sexual assault." On Sunday, Ansari responded to the allegation, saying he was "surprised and concerned" that she felt the encounter was not consensual. "I continue to support the [#metoo] movement that is happening in our culture," Ansari added. "It is necessary and long overdue."


3,000 evacuate after warning of imminent eruption of Philippines volcano

About 3,000 people evacuated villages around the Philippines' most active volcano on Sunday after it showed signs of imminent eruption. The alert came after steam burst out of the dome of the Mayon volcano and a bright lava glow appeared. The volcano sent ash into the air, and several rockfalls were reported. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said the changes indicated an "increased tendency towards hazardous eruption," which could occur "within weeks or even days." The volcano, on the island of Luzon about 200 miles southeast of Manila, has erupted 47 times since 1616. Five climbers were killed by falling rocks in 2015. The volcano's deadliest eruption occurred in 1814, killing 1,200 people.


Christie leaves office after bumpy tenure

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) heads into his last day in office on Monday, ending a tumultuous, term-limited eight years for a politician once considered a rising star in the Republican Party. Christie's popularity, linked to his reputation for telling it like it is, fell after the Bridgegate scandal, in which top aides created traffic gridlock in a town allegedly to punish its mayor for withholding his endorsement of Christie. His troubles also included a failed bid for the GOP presidential nomination and a backlash over a photo of him and his family at a beach closed during a government shutdown, which left him with the lowest approval ratings of any governor in the state's history. Christie will be replaced Tuesday by Democrat Phil Murphy.


Four teams fight for two spots in Super Bowl

The Minnesota Vikings advanced to the NFC finals with a stunning 29-24 comeback victory over the New Orleans Saints. They'll play the Philadelphia Eagles, who beat the Atlanta Falcons 15-10, to see who will move on to this year's Super Bowl. In the AFC, the Jacksonville Jaguars beat Pittsburgh, depriving the Steelers of a rematch against the New England Patriots, who beat Pittsburgh 27-24 in December. The Jaguars defeated the favored Steelers 45-42 to qualify for the AFC title game for the third time in franchise history. "We knew we had this team's number," Jacksonville safety Barry Church said. The Jaguars will play the Patriots next Sunday.


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German police say suspect killed lookalike so she could fake her own death
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President Biden and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
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