Thursday, January 17
The Democrats have asked US President Donald Trump to postpone his January 29 State of the Union address, saying they had doubts that adequate security could be provided during the partial government shutdown.
In a letter to Mr Trump, leader of the House Nancy Pelosi asked him to reschedule the address until the government was reopened.
Ms Pelosi said with both the Secret Service and the Homeland Security Department entangled in the shutdown, the President should speak to Congress another time or deliver the address in writing unless the government is reopened this week.
In response, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denied anyone’s safety was compromised, saying both agencies “are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union”.
Inviting the President to give the speech is usually routine and Ms Pelosi issued the invitation to hold the address in consultation with the White House several weeks ago.
It takes a joint resolution of the House and Congress to extend the official invitation and set the stage.
But with the shutdown in its fourth week, Ms Pelosi left it unclear what would happen if Mr Trump insisted on holding the address on the scheduled date.
“We’ll have to have a security evaluation, but that would mean diverting resources,” she told reporters when asked how she would respond if Mr Trump still intended to come.
“I don’t know how that could happen.”
Ms Pelosi stressed the need for “proper security” to be in place for the address, which brings all three branches of government together in the same room.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May narrowly survived a no-confidence vote after her crushing Brexit defeat and immediately proposed talks with other party leaders in an attempt to break the deadlock on a Brexit divorce agreement.
MPs voted 325 to 306 in a show of support for Mrs May’s Government, just 24 hours after handing her Brexit deal a humiliating defeat that left Britain’s divorce from the European Union in disarray.
The motion was brought by Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn after Mrs May’s proposed Brexit deal was defeated by the largest margin in Commons history — 230 votes — on Tuesday evening (local time).
With the clock ticking down to March 29, the date set in law for Brexit, the United Kingdom is gripped by the deepest political crisis in half a century as it grapples with how, or even whether, to exit the European project it joined in 1973.
After the results of the confidence vote were announced to cheers from Conservative politicians, Mrs May told the House of Commons that Parliament had a duty to find a solution that would deliver Brexit.
“I am most pleased that this House has expressed its confidence in the Government tonight,” Mrs May told the House of Commons shortly after the result.
“I do not take this responsibility lightly and my Government will continue its work to increase our prosperity, guarantee our security and to strengthen our union.
“And yes, we will also work to continue on the solemn promise we made to the people of this country to deliver on the referendum and leave the European Union.”
Mrs May has proposed a series of meetings with senior parliamentarians and Government representatives over the coming days to break the Brexit deal deadlock.
She has also extended an olive branch to Mr Corbyn and other party leaders, asking them to meet her individually starting from tonight (local time).
Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun who has been granted asylum in Canada, has been given a bodyguard.
The Toronto agency that is helping her has hired a security guard to ensure “she is never alone” as she starts a normal life, amid threats to her safety.
Alqunun made international headlines after she barricaded herself in an airport hotel room in Thailand’s capital Bangkok to avoid being sent home to her family due to fears of being harmed or killed. The family denies any abuse.
The teen has received multiple threats online that have made her fear for her safety, said Mario Calla, executive director of Costi, a refugee agency contracted by the Canadian government to help her settle in Toronto.
Costi has hired a security guard and plans to “make sure she is never alone,” Calla told reporters.
“It’s hard to say how serious these threats are. We’re taking them seriously.”
The teenager gave a public statement in Toronto on Tuesday that was read on her behalf in English by a settlement worker.
“I understand that everyone here and around the world wishes me well and would like to continue to hear about how I am doing, but … I would like to start living a normal private life, just like any other young woman living in Canada,” she said in the statement.
She thanked the Canadian and Thai governments and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for making her move to Canada possible.
“I am one of the lucky ones,” she said.
“I know that there are unlucky women who disappeared after trying to escape or who could not do anything to change their reality.”