They’re not making nice. The U.S. president has vowed to build a wall at the southern border, but Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto has assured his countrymen that they won’t be paying for it. The Mexican leader today canceled his trip to Washington, D.C., where he was meant to meet with Trump next week. Trump, who has insisted that construction will start “soon” and that “we’ll be reimbursed,” responded by calling today for a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports to cover costs. Speaker Paul Ryan said Congress will quickly appropriate the billions needed for the 2,000-mile barrier along the frontera.
The Presidential Daily Brief
He’s laid the foundations. Donald Trump has signed another radical set of executive orders, including one to build his “great wall” along the Mexican border without Congressional approval and a directive that strips funding from “sanctuary cities” that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation. He’s also hinted at an order to ban refugees from Syria and other “terror-prone” Muslim-majority nations. In the coming days, Trump reportedly plans to order that the Guantanamo Bay prison remain open, while reviving globally repudiated “black sites” for secret detention and interrogation of terror suspects.
This won’t win votes. Transparency International released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index today, warning that the global rise of populism might not drain the swamp as voters expect. Instead, nations with populist leaders “usually install even worse forms of corrupt systems,” like those in Hungary and Turkey. The report also noted that Argentina’s corruption declined after a populist government left power. More nations moved toward the corrupt end of the scale in 2016, including the U.S. — and the report noted that the new administration’s apparent conflicts of interest don’t bode well.
It’s getting increasingly oily. President Trump signed executive orders yesterday to revive the stalled Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, touting them as job creators. Environmental activists who convinced Barack Obama to halt both projects have vowed to resume protests. The administration also reportedly imposed gag orders on several taxpayer-funded environmental and scientific governmental agencies, banning public and media communications. And Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended Trump’s baseless claim that millions voted against him illegally, saying “studies and evidence” backed it up, but even Republicans are skeptical.
Will his advice be as valuable? Goldman Sachs will pay former CEO Gary Cohn, who’s heading to Washington, D.C., to become Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, more than $100 million in severance. Most of that derives from a “conflicted employment” clause triggered by his public-sector move that speeds payout of future bonuses upon leaving his $20 million-a-year job. The government will also help with the transition, providing a capital gains tax break on stocks he sells to avoid a conflict of interest.
Dow Soars, Sending Feds to Chicago, Judge Says Homosexuality ‘Not Harmless’ and the Name Is the Game
Know This: Dow Jones Industrial hits 20,000 for first time. President Trump has threatened to “send the feds” to Chicago to combat homicides. The Senate confirmed South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as U.N. Ambassador. And a Syrian refugee girl has written Trump a letter, urging him to “save the children” of her nation.
Interpret This: “The states should not be required to accept, as a matter of constitutional doctrine, that homosexual activity is harmless.” — So said federal Judge William Pryor Jr. of Alabama, a potential Supreme Court nominee who also called Roe v. Wade the “worst abomination of constitutional law.”
Name This: You don’t have to be a Pat or a Falcon to play. Send us your best idea for what OZY should name its forthcoming dedicated sports section. We’ve already got Rising Stars, Flashbacks and Fast Forward sections — tackle this one with similar creativity and you could win a pair of tickets to OZY Fest if you suggest the winner. Email email@example.com with your suggestions by Sunday, Jan. 29. Game on!
She was America’s liberated sweetheart. As Mary Richards in the 1970s Mary Tyler Moore Show, Moore, who died Wednesday from pneumonia, broke the mold as a never-married, independent working woman, taking feminism mainstream. Her career began with a more traditional role, as the bubbly housewife co-star on Dick Van Dyke’s eponymous 1960s sitcom. Moore, a passionate campaigner for diabetes and animal rights, was remembered as an “enormously powerful” actress by Robert Redford, who directed her Oscar-nominated performance in the dark 1980 family drama Ordinary People.
His reputation is on the line. Star runner Usain Bolt has lost one of his nine Olympic gold medals after teammate Nesta Carter tested positive for drugs. Carter was one of the four Jamaican 4x100m relay runners who won gold in Beijing in 2008. The International Olympic Committee discovered Carter was doping as part of a retest of over 400 athletes’ samples, prompting them to revoke him and his teammates’ medals. This promises to come as a hard blow for Jamaica, where Bolt is a symbol of national pride.
Not so white anymore. This year’s Academy Awards nominations show promising strides toward diversity, looking less #OscarsSoWhite with a record-breaking six Black actors nominated, including Denzel Washington and Viola Davis for Fences, and four out of five nominated documentaries coming from Black filmmakers. La La Land received a whopping 14 nods, including Best Picture and Best Director, tying Titanic and All About Eve for the most ever. With left-fielders like Arrival sneaking in, the Jimmy Kimmel-hosted Feb. 26 ceremony looks likely to include more surprises.
Are we doomed to repeat it? Frank Navarro, a 40-year veteran California history teacher, was suspended for drawing comparisons between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler, raising questions of where the boundaries lie when teaching the darker chapters of history. Defining fascism as an ideology, especially in the context of American culture, is deeply political. At a fraught moment in history, educators wonder if even documented facts may prove perilous. Navarro was ultimately reinstated after a public outcry, but he warns, “We are entering dangerous times for truth-telling.”
They said it loud. Last year, Facebook and Twitter boosted the message of Dakota Access Pipeline protesters, as viral posts catapulted the Standing Rock Sioux and an unprecedented union of Native American tribes and allies into the public eye. That was then. Now President Trump’s ordered a pipeline revival without a promised environmental review, and outrage on social media spiked once more — but only until Oscar nods took over. With the “Twitterification” of politics, activists must learn to amplify their digital bullhorns — or disappear amid the noise.
It’s a hard lesson. The Ivy League school has released a report detailing its links to slavery, and the grim findings are guaranteed to spark dialogue about reparations. Columbia revealed that half of its presidents before the Civil War owned slaves, and most early major donors were linked to the slave trade. While several other institutions have already created websites documenting their history of slavery, Columbia presents a unique challenge to researchers: The New York City university has moved twice in its 263 years, and some records have disappeared.
He’s shooting from the hip. A profanity-laced postgame media session Monday and a couple of tweets Tuesday got the four-time MVP’s point across: He needs better players around him. The defending champions have lost five of their last seven games, and James said his high workload is wearing him down, insisting the Cavaliers need a “playmaker” in order to repeat. While finals foe Golden State restocked with superstar Kevin Durant, Cleveland’s saddled with a league-leading payroll and precious few options to get James what he wants.