That was harsh. President Donald Trump lashed out at former chief strategist Steve Bannon in response to Bannon’s claims in an upcoming book that describe Trump as unprepared and incompetent, and the White House as deeply disorganized. “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” Trump said in a statement. An excerpt from the book, by writer Michael Wolff, was published online today — but it follows a recent profile of Bannon in Vanity Fair that also included comments which reportedly angered the president.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’re pushing each other’s buttons. President Trump tweeted that he had a “much bigger” and “more powerful” button for launching nuclear weapons than Kim Jong Un, after the North Korean leader warned that he had a launch button on his desk. Trump has tweeted several provocative foreign policy statements in recent days, but his taunts to Kim have many observers worried about nuclear escalation. Meanwhile, Pyongyang and Seoul have made overtures toward peace, reopening a hotline to communicate about South Korea’s upcoming Pyeongchang Olympic Games.
Follow the money. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made his first public remarks yesterday on protests that have racked Iran, blaming the unrest on “enemies” from abroad who he claims have provided funding and weapons to destabilize the regime. Meanwhile, U.S. officials maintained that Iran’s protests arose organically from dissatisfaction with the nation’s economic decline and political corruption. They’ve called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to plan a response to the crisis, which has seen at least 22 people killed and hundreds arrested.
He’s had a good run. After more than 40 years in office, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the longest-serving Republican senator, has announced he won’t seek re-election. The front-runner to replace the 83-year-old Trump loyalist is former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a prominent critic of the president who’s reportedly been considering a Senate bid. President Trump had repeatedly implored Hatch to run again, but now — if Romney replaces him — the dwindling number of powerful conservatives opposed to Trump may get a boost.
It’s a little fish across a big pond. Britain currently has a minimal trading relationship with the 11 countries in the TPP, but as Brexit looms and its future of exports to the EU is in doubt, government officials have been attempting to woo new partners. If the U.K. joins the TPP, it’d be the first country not bordering the Pacific Ocean to do so, but some believe Britain’s involvement could reinvigorate the deal — which suffered a blow when President Trump withdrew U.S. cooperation — and informal talks are underway.
Know This: At least 48 people died in Peru when their bus plunged off a cliff on a stretch of road known as “Devil’s Curve.” The University of Arizona has fired football coach Rich Rodriguez after an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against him. And after a delayed flight made passengers wait on the tarmac in Spain, a Ryanair passenger crawled out the emergency exit and sat on the wing in protest before being talked inside and arrested.
Prepare for This: After record-breaking low temperatures in the northern U.S. this winter, meteorologists are predicting an unusual winter storm that could bring 11 inches of snow to Boston, as well as hurricane-force winds and 26-foot waves along the East Coast from North Carolina to Canada.
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The answer is blowing in the wind. Turbine farms need plenty of space, and land-based and near-shore locations are filling up. Now TenneT, the company that operates the Netherlands’ electric grid, is planning to build the world’s largest wind farm on an artificial island in the North Sea, 60 miles off England’s coast. The farm’s thousands of turbines, which could feed electricity to five countries, are forecast to provide twice Europe’s current total offshore wind power by the time the power plant’s fully operational in 2027.
They’re making it work. Once hit hard by a post-NAFTA decline in manufacturing, Arkansas is now the beneficiary of hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign direct investment, lending a crucial financial helping hand. It couldn’t have come at a better time: In places like Forrest City, unemployment and poverty have grown since the 1990s, but an influx of Chinese money promises to revive manufacturing and create an abundance of new jobs. Still, some observers question whether the benefits of generous tax breaks will eventually trickle down to ordinary locals.
They’re howling in protest. Animal rights activists lost their final legal appeal to halt a culling of the country’s 350-strong wolf population. A 50-year national ban on hunting lasted until 2009 as Sweden encouraged its native wolves to multiply, aiming for a population of 300 — an unpleasant development for livestock owners. The supreme court agreed that hunting season can go ahead as of Tuesday, and at least eight wolves have already been killed. A total of 22 can be shot before the hunt ends Feb. 15.
They won’t back down. Wixen Media Publishing, which also handles music by Stevie Nicks, The Doors, Weezer and Neil Young, is suing the streaming giant for at least $1.6 billion in damages, claiming Spotify played songs without proper licensing. Wixen isn’t the first: In May, the Swedish company offered $43 million to settle a class-action complaint from songwriters. This new suit, filed Dec. 29, is racing the Music Modernization Act — legislation introduced in Congress late last month that would affect any lawsuits filed after Jan. 1.
He’s going high. The former heavyweight boxing champ is entering the pot business, having broken ground on a 40-acre property outside Death Valley. Half of Tyson Ranch will be used to grow newly legal cannabis plants, while the rest of the business, which aims to employ and support veterans, will feature a marijuana research facility, a cultivation school and a resort with its own edible pot products. California City’s mayor thanked Tyson, who’s chronicled his struggles with abuse and addiction in a one-man show, for investing in the community.