—TransCanada has filed an application to construct the Keystone XL pipeline, a 1,200-mile-long oil pipeline that would connect the tar sands of Alberta to oil refineries in Nebraska. More here
—Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced on Twitter he’s canceled his visit next week to the U.S. to meet with President Trump over the American leader’s insistence Mexico will pay for a wall the U.S. wants to build on its southern border to keep away illegal immigrants. More here
—We’re tracking the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
TransCanada Files a New Application to Build the Keystone XL Pipeline
TransCanada has filed an application to construct the Keystone XL pipeline, a 1,200-mile-long oil pipeline that would connect the tar sands of Alberta to oil refineries in Nebraska, according to Reuters. President Trump invited the Canadian energy company to re-submit the pipeline for approval in an executive order on Tuesday. The application now formally sets the Keystone XL pipeline back in motion, bringing the infrastructure project closer to reality. According to the same executive order, the U.S. State Department now has 60 days to approve or reject the company’s application, and it may not prepare a new environmental-impact statement for the pipeline.
The construction of the pipeline would represent a significant hit to former President Obama’s environmental legacy. In November 2015, Obama denied TransCanada’s first application to build the Keystone XL pipeline after it became a rallying symbol of the climate movement. Bill McKibben, a journalist and activist, said that the construction of Keystone XL would be “game over” for the planet, as it would allow the extraction and combustion of the especially dirty oil present in the Tar Sands. As I wrote on Wednesday, many U.S. environmental activists trace the origins of the country’s grassroots climate movement back to the mass protests opposing Keystone XL.
With no Keystone XL pipeline, many oil extractors have resorted to shipping oil across the continent on trucks or trains. On top of this, others have stopped exploring for oil in the tar sands, as crude prices are now too low to justify drilling. On Wednesday, Russ Girling, the CEO of TransCanada, said that he wasn’t sure if shippers would use the pipeline if his company built it. Now we find out.
Chile Battles Its Worst Wildfires in Modern History
This post was updated on January 27 at 5:38 p.m ET.
The death toll has risen to at least 10 Friday in the wildfires that have spread throughout central Chile. Mario Fernandez, Chile’s interior minister, said Thursday the victims include two police officers were found in the Maule River, as well as four firefighters. Though wildfires are not uncommon in Chile, historically high temperatures and a nearly decade-long drought contributed to conditions that sparked blazes the likes of which Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said “we have never seen… never in Chile’s history.” Since Chile declared a state of emergency last week, the country has recorded more than 100 separate fires, which have burned nearly 500,000 acres—an area more than twice the size of New York City. Other countries, including the U.S., Russia, France, Peru, and Mexico, have contributed to the relief effort. As of Friday, Chile’s Conaf forestry service estimates that 72 fires have yet to be controlled.
Mexican President Peña Nieto Cancels Meeting with Trump
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced on Twitter he’s canceled his visit next week to the U.S. to meet with President Trump over the American leader’s insistence Mexico will pay for a wall the U.S. wants to build on its southern border to keep away illegal immigrants. Trump on Wednesday issued an executive order affirming his intention to build the wall—in line with a longstanding campaign promise. Mexico has consistently said it will not pay for such a structure.
Esta mañana hemos informado a la Casa Blanca que no asistiré a la reunión de trabajo programada para el próximo martes con el @POTUS.
Last Bodies Recovered From Italian Hotel, Rescuers Say
The remaining bodies of the victims killed in last week’s deadly avalanche have been recovered from the wreckage, Italian authorities said Thursday, bringing the final death toll to 29. You can read more about the avalanche and the recovery process here.
Greece's Supreme Court Rules Against Extraditing Coup-Linked Turkish Soldiers
Greece's Supreme Court has ruled against extraditing to Turkey eight Turkish soldiers linked to last July’s coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The countries have had traditionally tense relations, but are both members of NATO and, as such, are allies. Turkey wants the soldiers, who fled to Greece by helicopter, returned so they can stand trial. Erdogan has cracked down on the military, the media, and government, and civil society after the coup attempt. Thousands of people have been arrested and tens of thousands have lost their jobs. The Greek Supreme Court’s decision is final and cannot be appealed.
Starting the process will rein in a president who is undermining American ideals—and bring the debate about his fitness for office into Congress, where it belongs.
On January 20, 2017,Donald Trump stood on the steps of the Capitol, raised his right hand, and solemnly swore to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and, to the best of his ability, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. He has not kept that promise.
Instead, he has mounted a concerted challenge to the separation of powers, to the rule of law, and to the civil liberties enshrined in our founding documents. He has purposefully inflamed America’s divisions. He has set himself against the American idea, the principle that all of us—of every race, gender, and creed—are created equal.
Insights into the little-studied realm of last words
Mort Felix liked to say that his name, when read as two Latin words, meant “happy death.” When he was sick with the flu, he used to jokingly remind his wife, Susan, that he wanted Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” played at his deathbed. But when his life’s end arrived at the age of 77, he lay in his study in his Berkeley, California, home, his body besieged by cancer and his consciousness cradled in morphine, uninterested in music and refusing food as he dwindled away over three weeks in 2012. “Enough,” he told Susan. “Thank you, and I love you, and enough.” When she came downstairs the next morning, she found Felix dead.
During those three weeks, Felix had talked. He was a clinical psychologist who had also spent a lifetime writing poetry, and though his end-of-life speech often didn’t make sense, it seemed to draw from his attention to language. “There’s so much so in sorrow,” he said at one point. “Let me down from here,” he said at another. “I’ve lost my modality.” To the surprise of his family members, the lifelong atheist also began hallucinating angels and complaining about the crowded room—even though no one was there.
Aides on Capitol Hill fear that a dramatic government failure may be the only thing to force President Trump and the Democrats back to the table.
As the longest government shutdown in American history lurches toward its fifth week, a grim but growing consensus has begun to emerge on Capitol Hill: There may be no way out of this mess until something disastrous happens.
This is, of course, not a sentiment lawmakers are eager to share on the record. But in interviews this week with congressional staffers on both sides of the aisle (whom I granted anonymity in exchange for candor), I heard the same morbid idea expressed again and again.
The basic theory—explained to me between weary sighs and defeated shrugs—goes like this: Washington is at an impasse that looks increasingly unbreakable. President Donald Trump is dug in; so is Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Democrats have public opinion on their side, but the president is focused on his conservative base. For a deal to shake loose in this environment, it may require a failure of government so dramatic, so shocking, as to galvanize public outrage and force the two parties back to the negotiating table.
A BuzzFeed report says President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, prompting the talk of impeachment even before the special counsel finishes his probe.
Updated at 9:16 p.m. ET on January 18.
Late Thursday night, BuzzFeed News published a report that, if true, could prove historic: President Donald Trump allegedly directed his then–personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about a real-estate deal he was pursuing in Moscow during the 2016 election. Trump immediately denied the story, but for many Democrats, including those who had previously cautioned against impeaching the president before Special Counsel Robert Mueller produces his findings in the Russia investigation, the report was cause to consider proceeding with impeachment before the Russia probe is finished.
After almost two years of near-complete silence, the special counsel’s spokesman issued a statement late Friday night calling parts of the story inaccurate. “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate,” said the spokesman, Peter Carr. BuzzFeed News’ editor in chief, Ben Smith, stood by the story, saying in a statement: “We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.”
Everyone’s winging it, but that’s not a bad thing.
Harvey Karp makes soothing babies look like a cinch. In the video that accompanies his best-selling book The Happiest Baby on the Block, he holds one screaming infant after another, deftly rolls them on their side, and bam!—the crying stops. “Side position” is just one of the techniques to calm a baby in Karp’s repertoire. He also uses swaddling, shushing, swinging, and sucking. Bleary-eyed parents ooh and aah over how Karp can instantly activate a baby’s calming reflex, or “automatic shut-off switch,” using his trademark “five S’s.”
I discovered the sixth S shortly after having my daughter nine years ago. A childbirth injury had left me bedridden with chronic pelvic pain, and for two months I lived on an air mattress in my living room because I couldn’t make it upstairs to my bedroom. I couldn’t sit in a comfortable position to nurse; I couldn’t stand to change my baby’s diaper or squat to bathe her; I couldn’t bounce her to calm her down. My husband stepped up, handling most things baby-related while I healed.
Dr. Sherman Hershfield woke up one morning and was surprised to find himself behind the wheel of his car. Somewhere between his Beverly Hills apartment and his practice in the San Fernando Valley, the silver-haired physician had blacked out. Somehow he’d avoided a crash, but this wasn’t the first time. “I didn’t know what was going on,” he admitted.
Apart from his frequent blackouts, Hershfield was in fine health for a man in his 50s. He was tall and lean, ran six miles a day, and was a strict vegetarian. “I believe a physician should provide exemplary motivation to patients,” he once wrote. “I don’t smoke and have cut out all alcohol.” Hershfield specialized in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and for decades had helped patients with brain injuries learn to walk again and rebuild their lives. Even with his experience, Hershfield didn’t know what was wrong inside his own head.
Corn lurks in so many surprising places, from table salt to apples to IV bags.
When Christine Robinson was first diagnosed with a corn allergy 17 years ago, she remembers thinking, “No more popcorn, no more tacos. I can do this.”
Then she tried to put salt on her tomatoes. (Table salt has dextrose, a sugar derived from corn.) She tried drinking bottled iced tea. (It contains citric acid, which often comes from mold grown in corn-derived sugar.) She tried bottled water. (Added minerals in some brands can be processed with a corn derivative.) She ultimately gave up on supermarket meat (sprayed with lactic acid from fermented corn sugars), bagged salads (citric acid, again), fish (dipped in cornstarch or syrup before freezing), grains (cross-contaminated in processing facilities), fruits like apples and citrus (waxed with corn-derived chemicals), tomatoes (ripened with ethylene gas from corn), milk (added vitamins processed with corn derivatives). And that’s not even getting to all the processed foods made with high-fructose corn syrup, modified food starch, xanthan gum, artificial flavorings, corn alcohol, maltodextrin—all of which are or contain derivatives of corn.
Seldom can one find so succinct a demonstration of the president’s anti-Muslim sentiments, reliance on right-wing media, and lack of interest in accuracy or truth.
Imagine you were charged with choosing an artifact to put in a time capsule so that future Americans could understand the current government shutdown. This is an unrealistic scenario, of course. No single item can explain the current moment, and moreover, there’s no reason to believe that the shutdown is actually going to end.
But playing along with the game, your best bet would be this Donald Trump tweet from Friday morning:
Border rancher: “We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal.” Washington Examiner People coming across the Southern Border from many countries, some of which would be a big surprise.
It offers a succinct window into the president’s mind and his approach to the shutdown: an obsession with border security. A dubious anonymous source. Assertions that are unproven at best and likely bogus. A reliance on right-wing media. Anti-Muslim sentiments. Xenophobia. It is the total package; it’s just that the package is a booby trap.
An explosive report that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress provides a straightforwardly impeachable offense.
Updated at 11:35 p.m. ET
It’s not just the collusion. It’s the conspiracy.
On Thursday evening, BuzzFeed Newsdropped a bombshell, reporting that President Donald Trump told Michael Cohen, his former personal attorney, to lie to Congress about the Trump Organization’s pursuit of a real-estate project in Moscow during the 2016 election, a period in which the Russian government was seeking to aid Trump’s presidential campaign.
“Assuming all the evidence adds up to the conclusion that the president asked Cohen to lie about the Russia deal, it’s evidence of conspiracy, of obstruction of justice, of suborning perjury,” said John Q. Barrett, a law professor at St. John’s and a former associate counsel in the Iran-Contra investigation. “It’s impeachment material.”
The president turns again to flimsy rumor to build support for his policies.
The president is tweeting again.
Three weeks into a government shutdown triggered when the president reneged on a deal to fund the government, insisting instead that any deal had to include money for a wall on the southern border, Donald Trump tweeted about a story from the Washington Examiner that cited an anonymous rancher who claimed that Muslim “prayer rugs” were found at the U.S. border. Although the president likely imagines that this strengthens the case for his border wall, it’s really just an example of how the president will say anything he thinks backs him up, regardless of whether it’s true.
“There’s a lot of people coming in not just from Mexico … People, the general public, just don’t get the terrorist threats of that,” the story quotes the rancher as saying. “That’s what’s really scary. You don’t know what’s coming across. We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal. It’s not just Mexican nationals that are coming across.”