AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EST - NEWS 95.7
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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EST

Last Updated Jan 3, 2018 at 12:20 am ADT

Trump boasts of bigger ‘nuclear button’ than North Korea’s

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump boasted Tuesday that he has a bigger and more powerful “nuclear button” than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The president’s Tuesday evening tweet came in response to Kim’s New Year’s address, in which he repeated fiery nuclear threats against the United States. He said he has a “nuclear button” on his office desk and warned that “the whole territory of the U.S. is within the range of our nuclear strike.”

Trump mocked that assertion, writing, “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

Earlier Tuesday, Trump sounded open to the possibility of an inter-Korean dialogue after Kim made a rare overture toward South Korea in a New Year’s address. But Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations insisted talks would not be meaningful unless the North was getting rid of its nuclear weapons.

In a morning tweet, Trump said the U.S.-led campaign of sanctions and other pressure were beginning to have a “big impact” on North Korea. He referred to the recent, dramatic escape of at least two North Korean soldiers across the heavily militarized border into South Korea. He also alluded to Kim’s comments Monday that he was willing to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics, which will be hosted by South Korea next month.

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Trump threatens to cut off US aid to Palestinian Authority

WASHINGTON (AP) — Acknowledging his push to broker peace in the Middle East has stalled, President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to threaten to cut off U.S. aid money to the Palestinian Authority, asking why the U.S. should make “any of these massive future payments” when the Palestinians are “no longer willing to talk peace.”

Trump, in a pair of tweets, said the U.S. pays “the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect.”

“They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue … peace treaty with Israel,” he wrote.

Trump infuriated Palestinians and Muslims across the Middle East when he announced late last year that the U.S. would consider Jerusalem the capital of Israel and move its embassy there, upending decades of U.S. policy and igniting protests.

While the Palestinians haven’t closed the door to a potential deal with Israel, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said the announcement had destroyed Trump’s credibility as a Mideast peace broker, calling the decision “a declaration of withdrawal from the role it has played in the peace process.”

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10 Things to Know for Wednesday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:

1. TRUMP ROOTS ON IRANIAN PROTESTERS

In throwing the full weight of the U.S. government behind the protesters, the administration risks helping Iranian authorities dismiss the demonstrations as the product of American instigation.

2. ORRIN HATCH WON’T SEEK RE-ELECTION

The decision by the Utah Republican, who has spent more than 40 years in the Senate, opens the door for former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to run for his seat.

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Homeland chief: Wait and see on citizenship for immigrants

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Trump administration would consider immigration legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of young people, the U.S. Homeland Security secretary said Tuesday, while emphasizing no decision on that issue has been made and a border wall remains the priority.

Congress is considering three options, including citizenship or permanent legal status for people who were temporarily shielded from deportation, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in an interview.

Details on qualifying for citizenship, including on how many years to wait and other requirements, would have to be addressed.

Asked whether the president would support citizenship, she said, “I think he’s open to hearing about the different possibilities and what it means but, to my knowledge, there certainly hasn’t been any decision from the White House.”

In September, Trump said he wouldn’t consider citizenship for DACA recipients — an Obama-era program that Trump said last year he was ending. He gave Congress until March to deliver a legislative fix.

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Sen. Hatch to retire, opening door for possible Romney run

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said Tuesday he will not seek re-election after serving more than 40 years in the Senate, opening the door for 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to run for his seat.

The 83-year-old Hatch, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, opted for retirement despite a full-court press from President Donald Trump to stay in Washington, particularly as Romney’s ambition for the seat became apparent.

Romney was a vocal critic of Trump’s during the 2016 election and could be a potential thorn in the president’s side in the Senate. He also has drawn the ire of Trump’s former White House adviser, Steve Bannon, who recently derided Romney as a draft dodger who “hid behind” his Mormon religion to avoid serving in the Vietnam War.

Hatch said he decided to retire at the end of his seventh term after “much prayer and discussion with family and friends” over the holiday break. He said he’s always been a fighter, “but every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves.”

“Only in a nation like ours could someone like me — the scrappy son of a simple carpenter — grow up to become a United States Senator,” he added.

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Iran protests: Supreme leader blames ‘enemies’ for meddling

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Breaking his silence over nationwide protests that included calls for his ouster, Iran’s supreme leader on Tuesday blamed the demonstrations on “enemies of Iran,” saying they were meddling in its internal affairs.

The remarks by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on the demonstrations — the largest seen in Iran since its disputed 2009 presidential election — came after a bloody night that saw protesters try to storm a police station and the first deaths among its security forces. The unrest has killed at least 21 people in the past six days.

The protests began Dec. 28 in Mashhad over the weak economy and a jump in food prices. They have since expanded to cities and towns in nearly every province. Hundreds have been arrested, and a prominent judge warned that some could face the death penalty.

Speaking to black-chador-clad women who were relatives of veterans and war dead, the 78-year-old Khamenei warned of an enemy “waiting for an opportunity, for a crack through which it can infiltrate.”

“Look at the recent days’ incidents,” he said. “All those who are at odds with the Islamic Republic have utilized various means, including money, weapons, politics and (the) intelligence apparatus, to create problems for the Islamic system, the Islamic Republic and the Islamic Revolution.”

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Bitter cold tests winter-wise, delivers shock to South

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Bitterly cold temperatures gripped much of the nation on Tuesday, testing the mettle of even winter-wise northerners and delivering a shock to those accustomed to far milder weather in the South.

The cold has been blamed for at least a dozen deaths, prompted officials to open warming centres in the Deep South and triggered pleas from government officials to check on neighbours, especially those who are elderly, sick or who live alone.

In St. Louis, where temperatures dipped 30 degrees below normal, Mayor Lyda Krewson warned it was “dangerously cold.”

“It’s important that people look out for anyone in need of shelter,” she said.

The National Weather Service issued wind chill advisories and freeze warnings covering a vast area, from South Texas to Canada and from Montana to Maine. The arctic blast was blamed for freezing a water tower in Iowa, halting a ferry service in New York and even trapping a swan in a Virginia pond.

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Ex-hostage Boyle charged with sex assault, confinement

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — A Canadian man recently freed with his American wife and children after years being held hostage in Afghanistan has been arrested and faces 15 charges including sexual assault, forcible confinement and administering a noxious drug, court documents indicated Tuesday.

Joshua Boyle, his wife Caitlan, and their three children were rescued last October in Pakistan, five years after the couple was abducted by a Taliban-linked militant group while on a backpacking trip in neighbouring Afghanistan. The children were born in captivity.

The charges include eight counts of assault, two accounts of sexual assault, two counts of unlawful confinement and one count of causing someone to “take a noxious thing, namely Trazodone,” an antidepressant. There is also a charge of uttering a death threat and a charge of misleading a police officer. The purported acts allegedly occurred between Oct. 14 and Dec. 30 after Boyle returned to Canada.

A publication ban bars reporting any information that could identify the alleged victims.

A hearing on the case was scheduled for Wednesday in Ottawa, but Boyle’s lawyer told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Boyle would not attend in person. He said Boyle was in custody.

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Get a pencil: California marijuana-tracking system not used

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California’s legal pot economy was supposed to operate under the umbrella of a vast computerized system to track marijuana from seed to storefronts, ensuring that plants are followed throughout the supply chain and don’t drift into the black market.

But recreational cannabis sales began this week without the computer system in use for pot businesses. Instead, they are being asked to document sales and transfers of pot manually, using paper invoices or shipping manifests. That raises the potential that an unknown amount of weed will continue slipping into the illicit market, as it has for years.

For the moment, “you are looking at pieces of paper and self-reporting. A lot of these regulations are not being enforced right now,” said Jerred Kiloh, a Los Angeles dispensary owner who heads the United Cannabis Business Association, an industry group.

The state Department of Food and Agriculture, which is overseeing the tracking system, said in a statement it was “implemented” Tuesday. However, it conceded that growers and sellers are not required to use it yet and training on how to input data will be necessary before it becomes mandatory, apparently later in the year.

The slow rollout of the tracking system is just one sign of the daunting task facing the nation’s most populous state as it attempts to transform its long-standing medicinal and illegal marijuana markets into a multibillion-dollar regulated system. Not since the end of Prohibition in 1933 has such an expansive illegal economy been reshaped into a legal one.

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VA document: Gunman who killed deputy had fled mental ward

DENVER (AP) — The gunman who killed a Colorado sheriff’s deputy escaped from the mental health ward of a VA hospital in Wyoming in 2014 but was located and returned, according to a Veterans Affairs document obtained by The Associated Press Tuesday.

The document was provided to the AP by a congressional aide on condition of anonymity because the aide was not authorized to release it. The document was first reported by The Denver Post.

The gunman, Matthew Riehl, fatally shot Douglas County Deputy Zackari Parrish and wounded four other officers on Sunday, Colorado authorities said. Riehl was killed by a SWAT team.

The VA document said Riehl was hospitalized at the veterans medical centre in Sheridan, Wyoming, in April 2014 after a psychotic episode. The document said he escaped but was found and brought back.

The VA issued a statement saying it “cannot ordinarily discuss the specific care of any veteran without a privacy release.” A spokeswoman for the Sheridan VA hospital did not respond to an after-hours phone message and email.

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