In our news wrap Friday, the Trump administration announced its toughest sanctions yet on North Korea, aimed at the country’s illegal maritime trade. Also, President Trump said the fate of his son-in-law Jared Kushner's security clearance is in the hands of his chief of staff, John Kelly.
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In the day’s other news: The Trump administration announced its toughest sanctions yet on North Korea, in its latest effort to crack down on the country’s illegal maritime trade. These target one individual, 27 entities and 28 vessels that the U.S. says North Korea is using to evade international law.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the economic sanctions will have a serious impact.
Our actions are part of the ongoing maximum economic pressure campaign to cut off sources of revenue that this regime derives from U.S. and U.N. prohibitive trade to fund its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Mnuchin said the U.S. has imposed more than 450 sanctions against North Korea, half of them in the past year alone.
President Trump said today that the fate of his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s security clearance is in the hands of his chief of staff, John Kelly, and he said he has no doubt that he will make the right choice. Kushner has been working as senior adviser to the president on an interim clearance for over a year. Kelly had said that he would decide whether Kushner can keep that clearance by today.
In Syria, a week of regime airstrikes on rebel-held suburbs east of Damascus have now left more than 460 people dead. Rescuers frantically pulled the injured from the rubble, as Syrian regime warplanes pounded the region for a sixth day. A spokeswoman for the United Nations’ envoy to Syria called for a cease-fire, as members of the U.N. Security Council struggled to agree on the terms.
The humanitarian situation of the civilians in Eastern Ghouta is appalling. And, therefore, we are in urgent need for a cease-fire that stops both the horrific heavy bombardment of Eastern Ghouta and the indiscriminate mortar shelling on Damascus.
The U.N. Security Council then delayed a vote on the Syrian cease-fire until tomorrow afternoon.
There is more trouble in Myanmar, as human rights groups said the government has razed at least 55 former Rohingya villages. These satellite images show some of the bulldozed villages, which had been set on fire after hundreds of thousands of the Rohingya Muslim minority were forced from their homes in August. Human Rights Watch warned that Myanmar could be trying to destroy evidence of atrocities.
The U.S. Embassy in Israel will officially move to Jerusalem this May, in a timing that coincides with Israel’s 70th anniversary. That is earlier than expected for the move President Trump announced last December. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded the announcement, but a spokesperson for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called it — quote — “an unacceptable step that will be an obstacle to any effort to create peace in the region.”
President Trump’s son didn’t give the foreign policy speech he was scheduled to deliver today while promoting Trump-branded properties in India. Donald Trump Jr., who helps to run the family’s real estate business, had faced a wave of criticism for mixing private business interests with U.S. foreign policy.
Instead, he participated in a question-and-answer session at a summit in New Delhi, and lamented his father’s promise that the company won’t take on any new deals while he’s in office.
Donald Trump Jr.:
It is a big sacrifice, because a big part of my life is say, hey, I’m going to take eight years. I’m 40. Let’s call it 23 percent of my life. And just we’re not going to do anything. We’re not — it is difficult, and it’s tough, as a businessman, but, again, fully understandable.
In a time when we’re out of politics, you know, I think we will get some credit for it. And we will be welcomed again with open arms.
Donald Trump Jr. insisted that claims that he is using his father’s presidency to sell luxury apartments are — quote — “nonsense.”
A woman is in custody after striking a security barrier near the White House late this afternoon. The driver rammed the barrier with her white van, but didn’t breach it. The White House was temporarily put on lockdown. The Secret Service said that she was immediately apprehended and that no injuries were reported.
In West Virginia, all the public schools were closed for a second day, amid a state-wide teachers strike. Thousands of educators joined the picket lines to demand better pay and benefits for the teachers, who are among the lowest paid in the country. They have been demonstrating in all 55 counties since yesterday, even though such strikes are illegal there.
I have a son who’s in college. I have a daughter who will be in college next year. And they will not stay in this state. So, it’s about our students and staying here. We have to make sure we have something to offer them. And we don’t right now.
West Virginia’s Republican Governor Jim Justice approved a 2 percent pay raise for teachers this year, but the educators insist that’s still not enough.
Stocks soared on Wall Street today, boosted by gains in the technology and banking sectors. The Dow Jones industrial average rallied more than 347 points to close at just under 25310. The Nasdaq rose 127 points, and the S&P 500 added 43. For the week, both the Dow and the S&P 500 rose a fraction of a percent. The Nasdaq gained more than 1 percent.
And at the Winter Olympics, Russia won its first gold medal of the Games. It went to 15-year-old figure skater Alina Zagitova in the women’s free skate. Her teammate, Evgenia Medvedeva, took silver. Separately, a second Russian athlete at the Games, a female bobsledder, has now tested positive for doping.