President Donald Trump met senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol Friday, emerging with news that Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet again by the end of February. The former spy chief reportedly delivered a letter from Kim and discussed progress toward denuclearization, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said. The meeting followed Chol’s latest disarmament negotiations with secretary of state Mike Pompeo, which stalled after U.S. demands for an inventory of nuclear and missile programs. Pyongyang, meanwhile, wants U.S. sanctions lifted.
The Presidential Daily Brief
A day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked President Donald Trump to postpone his State of the Union address because furloughed workers wouldn’t be able to provide security, Trump denied her use of a military aircraft to visit troops in Afghanistan. Citing the partial federal shutdown, he encouraged Pelosi to stay in Washington to negotiate. The news came as a bus waiting to carry Pelosi and fellow lawmakers to Joint Base Andrews sat outside the Capitol. Trump also canceled the U.S. delegation’s trip to next week’s World Economic Forum in Davos “out of consideration” for furloughed workers.
Pyongyang’s top nuclear diplomacy negotiator arrived in Washington yesterday, where he’s expected to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss a second summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The visit by Kim Yong Chol — who may also meet with Trump — signals that the nations are close to scheduling a new meeting despite Washington’s lack of progress in compelling Pyongyang to ditch its nuclear weapons. Hours before Kim’s arrival, Trump unveiled a new missile defense strategy, calling out North Korea as an “extraordinary threat.”
Citing “serious doubts” about the results of last month’s presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the 55-nation bloc urged the country not to certify the final results today. Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi declared victory last week, but critics allege voting irregularities helped tip the balance in his favor, claiming Tshisekedi struck a power-sharing deal with outgoing President Joseph Kabila. During a meeting yesterday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the AU agreed to dispatch a “high-level delegation” to capital Kinshasa to assist Congo’s first democratic transition since 1960.
Last year’s “zero tolerance” migration policy saw nearly 2,800 children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border and prompted legal action against the White House. But the overall number was actually much higher, a government watchdog now says — noting that thousands of children were likely split from their families before a June 2017 court ruling demanded tracking measures. Meanwhile, a leaked memo has reportedly revealed that the White House considered deliberately separating families as an anti-immigration measure, despite the administration’s insistence to the contrary.
Know This: Asian stocks rallied today amid reports of progress in U.S.-China trade talks. Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has announced a bid for the European Parliament. And a police officer in Arizona shot dead a 14-year-old boy with a replica gun.
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The adult streaming site released data Thursday showing a nearly 6 percent boost in traffic during the week of Jan. 7 compared to the weeks before the partial government shutdown. The Washington, D.C., area reflected a similar trend, with an average daily increase of 6.3 percent. Pornhub reported that its data revealed spikes late at night and in the afternoon — similar to traffic patterns seen during winter storms — suggesting that furloughed workers are staying up late and finding distractions from their employment woes.
The Israeli beach town’s Silicon Valley dreams have come with common nightmares. A booming tech scene employing one-tenth of Tel Aviv’s residents has brought in billions in investment — and complaints of increasing inequality. The divide is especially apparent in the pricey apartment towers throwing shade on the city’s working-class residents below. Around 300 multinational companies, including Facebook and Intel, have made the town their home. But with growing resentment from Israelis left out of the tech bubble, Tel Aviv may soon be less welcoming.
Data from NASA’s Cassini mission reveals the rings were only formed around the time dinosaurs roamed Earth, according to a new study in Science. That makes them around 10 million to 100 million years old, in contrast to Saturn’s age of 4.5 billion years. The probe, which was deliberately crashed into the planet in 2017 after it ran out of fuel, also determined the mass of the orbiting ice and rock particles that make up the rings: While they cover an area 80 times the size of Earth, their mass is half that of the Antarctic ice shelf.
Is the writing on the wall? Graffiti resembling the elusive street artist’s famous drawing of a rat holding an umbrella has been found near a monorail station in the Japanese capital. In a Twitter post, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike speculated whether the illustration, sprayed on an anti-flooding door, was the rogue artist’s “gift” to the city. Photos on social media suggest the work of art has been around for several years, but it was only recently identified as a possible Banksy. The door has been removed to avoid potential damage.
Unidentified assailants in Accra this week gunned down Ahmed Hussein-Suale, a member of the Tiger Eye investigative team that exposed mass corruption in African soccer ahead of last year’s World Cup. After the investigation, Ghanaian lawmaker Kennedy Agyapong called for revenge against Hussein-Suale, but he has denied involvement in the killing. Violence against reporters in Ghana is rare, but the International Press Institute stressed Hussein-Suale’s murder highlights the “grave danger” facing reporters “who tackle corruption and abuse of power.”