In our news wrap Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has stopped force-feeding two asylum seekers at an El Paso detention center who had been on a hunger strike. Also, the top Pentagon official says the U.S. will not abandon the fight against ISIS, despite plans to leave Syria. In Germany, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the U.S. will “continue to support” the coalition.
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And in the day's other news, stocks surged on hopes for an end to the U.S.-Chinese trade war. The U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, reported making headway at talks that wrapped up in Beijing today.
The news sent the Dow Jones industrial average up nearly 444 points, to close at 25883. The Nasdaq rose 45 points, and the S&P 500 added almost 30.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, has stopped force-feeding a group of detainees in El Paso, Texas. The men, from India, have been on a hunger strike while seeking asylum. Federal judges initially approved the feeding, but, on Wednesday, one of the judges ordered a halt for two of the men.
The top man at the Pentagon says that the U.S. will not abandon the fight against Islamic State forces, despite withdrawing from Syria. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan spoke in Germany today. He said the U.S. will keep up its counterterrorism capabilities and recruit an even stronger coalition.
We will continue to support our local partners' ability to stand up to the remnants of ISIS. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to permanently defeating ISIS' influence across the globe. Our coalition is addressing the threat in each region and what is required from us to meet those threats.
We will have a report on the collapse of the Islamic State's caliphate later in the program.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro says his government has held secret talks with the U.S., even as Washington seeks his ouster. He made the claim to the Associated Press in Caracas, and said he is willing to meet with President Trump.
Nicolas Maduro (through translator):
I can tell you that we have had two meetings already with Mr. Elliott Abrams, the U.S. special envoy to Venezuela, in New York. Our chancellor has met twice with Elliott Abrams. I invited Elliott Abrams to come to Venezuela, in private, in public, or in secret. Or if he wants to meet, let him say when, how, where, and I will be there.
The U.S. has publicly recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's rightful leader.
Back in this country, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments about including a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The court today scheduled the case for late April. The Commerce Department wants to add the citizenship question for the first time since 1950. Opponents say that it would cause undercounts of Hispanics.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returned to work at the high court today. She had been working from home since having lung cancer surgery in December. Ginsburg turns 86 in March.
Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld is the first Republican to move toward challenging President Trump in 2020. He announced an exploratory committee today in New Hampshire, and he accused Mr. Trump of promoting himself over the good of the nation. Weld ran for vice president as a libertarian in 2016.
There is a new turn in the Jussie Smollett case. The black, openly gay actor says that he was assaulted in Chicago last month. He said that two men shouted racial, homophobic slurs and tied a rope around his neck.
Today, Chicago police said that they have arrested two black suspects from Nigeria, one of whom worked on the "Empire" TV drama that features Smollett.
And the National Football League today settled collusion lawsuits by Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid. They say they were blacklisted for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality. Kaepernick has not played since 2016. Reid missed three games last season. No details of the settlement were released.