Hello neighbor. North and South Korean officials met today in their first direct diplomatic contact since 2015. The focus of the talks, held in the demilitarized zone “truce village” of Panmunjom, will be on North Korean involvement in the upcoming Winter Olympics hosted in South Korea. But South Korea’s government said other issues would be raised including easing military tensions on the peninsula. The U.S. and South Korea have agreed to hold off on joint military drills during the games which begin on Feb. 9.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Can he get back in the club? President Donald Trump has launched an all-out attack on his former adviser after Bannon’s inflammatory comments about the White House were reported in Michael Wolff’s new book. Bannon was quoted describing a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian officials as “treasonous,” but yesterday he claimed that allegation was directed at former campaign chief Paul Manafort. Meanwhile, Republican officials appeared on Sunday shows to defend the mental health of the president, who tweeted Saturday that he’s a “very stable genius.”
The crew’s still missing. The Iranian tanker, which collided with a freighter while en route to South Korea Saturday, is still burning two days later, with no sign of 31 crew members and one body recovered. All 21 people aboard the freighter were rescued. China, South Korea and the U.S. have all sent ships to the site 160 nautical miles off Shanghai, where the tanker’s spewing its cargo of nearly 1 million barrels of oil, to aid in cleaning and recovery efforts even as officials warn the ship may explode.
They’re on the warpath. The Syrian government and allied militias have set their sights on the northern province of Idlib, dominated by Al Qaida-linked rebels, after routing ISIS from its last urban strongholds. Government forces are advancing on the area with help from Russian airstrikes, though capturing the whole territory is expected to be long and bloody. Meanwhile, a car bomb targeting a rebel faction in Idlib killed at least 23 people Sunday as thousands of civilians began fleeing the province for neighboring Turkey despite freezing weather.
It may not matter what the doctor orders. Despite Britain’s “red lines” when it comes to EU oversight post-Brexit — and EU negotiators’ warnings that the U.K. can’t “cherry-pick” which parts of the bloc to keep — British officials now say they hope to remain part of the European Medicines Agency, currently being relocated from London to Amsterdam. To do otherwise, they say, would not only threaten millions of pharmaceutical imports and exports yearly, but would likely delay U.K. patients’ access to new drugs.
Know This: Negotiations over DACA are likely to dominate upcoming budget talks in Congress. Two investors in Apple have written to the company asking that it address the possible danger to children posed by overuse of electronic devices. And a security firm says hackers have targeted the Winter Olympics.
Watch This: Natalie Portman, presenting the Golden Globe for Best Director, called out the nominees list for being all-male. Female directors of films like Wonder Woman and Ladybird were ignored in favor of perennial favorites like Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan and winner Guillermo del Toro.
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“It is not lost on me that at this moment there are some little girls watching.” So said Oprah Winfrey, the first Black woman to win the Golden Globes’ career achievement award, in a fiery speech that reflected the evening’s tone. Celebs wore black on the red carpet to show solidarity with victims of sexual abuse, while the politically charged ceremony’s awards largely went to films and shows dealing with marginalization and abuse of women, including winners Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lies.
It’s heating up Down Under. As America’s Northeast battles a record cold snap, Australia’s having the opposite problem, recording temperatures above 117 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday, the hottest ever logged in some areas. The weekend was so hot that bushfires broke out and roads melted away, with officials comparing the conditions to a “blast furnace.” While soaring temperatures aren’t unusual for Australian summer, meteorologists say the heat wave — combined with North America’s “bomb cyclone” and warmer temperatures in Europe — is part of an extreme weather trend they chalk up to climate change.
How do you navigate the tangled web? About 60 percent of U.S. K-12 schools now offer digital citizenship courses, which teach kids born in the era of smartphones about online safety, cyberbullying and privacy. Though such classes were virtually unknown before 2010, states like Washington and Utah are now legislating internet safety into basic educational requirements. And while some schools still resist using screens in classrooms, advocates say teaching responsible use of social media lets kids stay connected to their coursework from home — and keeps parents linked in.
It’s a paradise lost. Archaeologists excavating a planned construction site in the town of Jaljulia have unearthed a trove of hundreds of elaborate flint tools created around half a million years ago. The find indicates that our pre-human ancestors visited the ancient river bed site repeatedly over many years — and suggests that Homo erectus used more complex techniques than previously thought. The dig has now been covered so construction can begin, but archaeologists are working with city planners to place parks over promising sites for future access.
They came, they broke things, they lost. The Buffalo Bills went to Jacksonville yesterday to play the Jaguars in their first trip to the playoffs since 1999. Fans celebrated accordingly, with Buffalo hooligans performing their signature move: Getting drunk and jumping (or throwing other people) through flimsy tables. But all the Instagrammed sacrificial destruction wasn’t enough to turn the tables on the team’s rough postseason history. They lost 10-3 in the wildcard game, which may well have been quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s last hurrah with the Bills.