Mexico, Canada and others may be exempted from US tariffs
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House said Wednesday that Mexico, Canada and other countries may be spared from President Donald Trump’s planned steel and aluminum tariffs under national security “carve-outs,” a move that could soften the blow amid threats of retaliation by trading partners and dire economic warnings from lawmakers and business groups.
Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade and manufacturing adviser, said in an interview on Fox Business that the tariffs would go into effect within about 15 to 30 days and the proclamation the president intends to sign would include a clause that would not immediately impose tariffs on Canada and Mexico.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters the exemptions would be made on a “case by case” and “country by country” basis, a reversal from the policy articulated by the White House just days ago that there would be no exemptions from Trump’s plan.
The update came as congressional Republicans and business groups braced for the impact of expected tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminum, appearing resigned to additional protectionist trade actions as Trump signalled upcoming economic battles with China. Trump was expected to announce the tariffs by the end of the week.
The looming departure of White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive who has opposed the promised tariffs, set off anxiety among business leaders and investors worried about a potential trade war.
Trump shuffle: Suddenly trade guru Navarro takes spotlight
WASHINGTON (AP) — In the squabbling Trump White House, no insider is ever above rebuke and no one blacklisted beyond redemption. Trade adviser Peter Navarro, once barred from sending private emails and spotted skulking in West Wing hallways, has emerged from the chaos ascendant.
With his chief ideological rival, Gary Cohn, now headed for the exit, Navarro and his protectionist trade policies are taking centre stage as President Donald Trump prepares to impose the steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that Navarro has long championed.
Navarro, a 68-year-old former economics professor whose ideas were once considered well outside the mainstream, joined the Trump campaign in 2016 after one of his books on China happened to catch the eye of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner during an internet search.
From the presidential campaign, Navarro made the leap to the new administration to head a new White House National Trade Council. But he was quickly sidelined by chief of staff John Kelly and closely managed by former staff secretary Rob Porter.
As alliances shifted and staffers departed, though, Navarro made his move, encouraging Trump to embrace a plan that many economists, lawmakers and White House aides warn could lead to a trade war and imperil U.S. economic gains.
10 Things to Know for Thursday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:
1. JEFF SESSIONS TAKES CLASH TO state capitol
The attorney general dramatically escalates a war with California over its so-called sanctuary law in a sharp exchange of words with Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.
2. FORMER SPY, DAUGHTER ‘TARGETED FOR MURDER’
British police say a Russian ex-spy and his daughter fighting for their lives in an English hospital were attacked with a nerve agent in the mysterious case.
‘Kind of awful’: Another snowstorm clobbers the Northeast
NEW YORK (AP) — For the second time in less than a week, a storm rolled into the Northeast with wet, heavy snow Wednesday, grounding flights, closing schools and bringing another round of power outages to a corner of the country still recovering from the previous blast of winter.
The nor’easter knocked out electricity to hundreds of thousands of customers and produced “thundersnow” as it made its way up the coast, with flashes of lightning and booming thunder from the Philadelphia area to New York City. A New Jersey middle school teacher was struck by lightning but survived.
Officials urged people to stay off the roads.
“It’s kind of awful,” said New York University student Alessa Raiford, who put two layers of clothing on a pug named Jengo before taking him for a walk in slushy, sloppy Manhattan, where rain gave way to wet snow in the afternoon. “I’d rather that it be full-on snowing than rain and slush. It just makes it difficult.”
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning into Thursday morning from the Philadelphia area through most of New England.
Porn actress sues to end silence on alleged Trump affair
LOS ANGELES (AP) — An adult film actress who has said she had sex with Donald Trump filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement and “set the record straight,” her lawyer said Wednesday.
Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday. She alleges that the agreement she signed days before the 2016 presidential election, which prevented her from discussing the alleged sexual encounters, is “null and void and of no consequence” because Trump didn’t personally sign it.
Her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said on morning news shows Wednesday that she wants “to set the record straight.” He said on NBC there was “no question” Trump knew about the agreement, though he did not offer any proof.
Avenatti said Clifford wasn’t looking to profit from her story. But he told CBS: “I don’t know whether she’s going to ultimately seek payment or not.”
Clifford initially claimed she had sex with Trump once and then carried on a subsequent yearslong platonic relationship.
S. Korea leader sees more obstacles ahead to disarm N. Korea
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s president said Thursday that many “critical moments” still lie ahead to end the nuclear crisis despite North Korea’s recent outreach to Seoul and Washington.
Moon Jae-in spoke before two senior Seoul officials left for the United States to brief officials about the outcome of their recent visit to North Korea.
The Seoul officials said North Korea offered talks with the United States over normalizing ties and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Seoul said the North also agreed to suspend nuclear and missile tests during such future talks.
Some experts question how sincere North Korea is about its reported offers, citing what they call its track record of using past disarmament talks to wrest aid and concessions while covertly continuing its bomb program.
According to the South Korean officials, North Korea said it has no reason to possess nuclear weapons as long as military threats against the country are removed and its security is guaranteed. That’s the same positon North Korea has long maintained to justify its nuclear program or call for the withdrawal of 28,500 U.S. troops and a halt to annual U.S.-South Korean military drills as a condition for scrapping its nuclear program. The North sees the allies’ drills as an invasion rehearsal.
Judge: Man accused of McDormand Oscar theft will be released
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A lawyer for the man charged with stealing Frances McDormand’s Academy Award said Wednesday that he and his client plan to “forcefully and aggressively resist” the allegations against him.
Attorney Daniel Brookman acknowledged that suspect Terry Bryant can be seen on an Associated Press video holding McDormand’s best actress statuette but those images don’t rise to the seriousness of felony grand theft.
“There’s a big difference between holding an Oscar and what he’s charged with,” Brookman said outside court, where Bryant was arraigned Wednesday and pleaded not guilty. “I don’t think his character matches these charges.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Deborah Brazil ruled Bryant, 47, did not pose a risk to the public and said he will be released on his own recognizance.
Bryant walked out of the Governors Ball Oscars after-party with the trophy on Sunday night, authorities said. He was captured on the AP video holding it proudly over his head and saying, “All right baby boys and baby girls.”
Jeff Sessions, California governor clash as feud escalates
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions dramatically escalated the Trump administration’s war with California on Wednesday, suing over its so-called sanctuary state law and clashing with Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown in a fiery exchange of words.
Sessions was defiant as he spoke to local law enforcement officials about the lawsuit, citing a series of California laws that he says are unconstitutional and violate common sense.
“I can’t sit by idly while the lawful authority of federal officers are being blocked by legislative acts and politicians,” he said, straying from his prepared remarks.
Brown didn’t hold back in his response, calling Sessions a liar and saying it was unprecedented for the attorney general to “act more like Fox News than a law enforcement officer.” He accused Sessions of “going to war” with California to appease President Donald Trump.
“What Jeff Sessions said is simply not true and I call upon him to apologize to the people of California for bringing the mendacity of Washington to California,” the governor told reporters.
Rallies in Asia kick off International Women’s Day
Marches and demonstrations in Asia are kicking off rallies around the world to mark International Women’s Day.
Hundreds of women activists in pink and purple shirts protested Thursday in the Philippines against President Rodrigo Duterte, who they said is among the worst violators of women’s rights in Asia.
Protest leaders sang and danced in a boisterous rally in downtown Manila’s Plaza Miranda. They handed red and white roses to mothers, sisters and widows of several drug suspects slain under Duterte’s deadly crackdown on illegal drugs.
A rally for the rights of female workers was scheduled for later Thursday in central Seoul in South Korea, where a rapidly spreading #Metoo movement is galvanizing support for women’s issues.
Other events are planned across Asia, the Mideast, Europe and the Americas.
Alabama: 1 student dead, another hurt in school shooting
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Authorities say they are investigating a fatal shooting at an Alabama high school as an apparent accident, lamenting the death of a 17-year-old female student and the wounding of a 17-year-old boy.
Birmingham Interim Police Chief Orlando Wilson said investigators are seeking to piece together exact circumstances surrounding Wednesday afternoon’s shooting at dismissal time at Huffman High School in his city. He added that the probe will involve scouring school surveillance video for clues and completing interviews among students and staff at the large magnet school.
The police chief says that “at this particular time, we are considering this accidental.” But he says investigators still have a lot of unanswered questions.