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Nation and World briefs for January 13

Trump hands nuke deal ‘last chance,’ waives Iran sanctions

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Friday delivered an ultimatum to America’s European allies to fix the “terrible flaws” in the Iran nuclear deal, or he’ll pull the U.S. out in a few months’ time.

Trump made the threat as he extended waivers of key economic sanctions on Iran, keeping the accord alive at least for now. But his explicit warning to Europe that the deal must be fixed by the time the next sanctions waivers are due in the spring creates a high-stakes diplomatic deadline that will be difficult to meet.

“This is a last chance,” Trump warned in a statement that outlined several tough new rules on Iran. “In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal.”

Trump’s declaration puts great pressure on Britain, France and Germany, the European signatories to nuclear pact with Iran. Trump wants them to help the U.S. devise a new agreement designed to prevent Iran from escalating nuclear activity again next decade, as permitted under the 2015 arrangement reached by President Barack Obama.

Iran has said it’s not interested in any renegotiation and would almost certainly view a side agreement between the U.S. and Europe as a violation of the deal. The Europeans, meanwhile, have said they are willing to discuss the matter with the U.S. but have shown little enthusiasm with Trump’s hard line.

White House doctor: Trump in ‘excellent health’

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s White House physician declared him in “excellent health” after the president received his first medical checkup at Walter Reed military hospital on Friday, undergoing a physical examination amid suggestions in a recent book and by his detractors that he’s mentally unfit.

Dr. Ronny Jackson, in a statement released by the White House, said the examination “went exceptionally well. The President is in excellent health and I look forward to briefing some of the details on Tuesday.” Trump spent about three hours at the medical facility in Bethesda, Maryland, outside Washington, for the Friday afternoon checkup, his first as president, before departing for Florida for the weekend.

The examination lasted several hours and measured things such as Trump’s blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, heart rate and weight. The White House did not provide specific results of those tests. Jackson, who also provided care for President Barack Obama and became a White House physician in 2006, is expected to provide a detailed readout of the exam Tuesday and answer questions from reporters.

But conclusions about Trump’s mental acuity were not expected. The White House said Trump would not undergo a psychiatric exam.

Trump lawyer brokered $130K payment to porn star, report says

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer brokered a $130,000 payment to a porn star to prevent her from publicly discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Trump, according to a report today in The Wall Street Journal.

Trump met Stephanie Clifford, whose goes by the name Stormy Daniels in films, at a golf event in 2006 — a year after Trump’s marriage to his wife, Melania. According to the Journal’s report, Clifford began talking with ABC News in the fall of 2016 for a story involving an alleged relationship with Trump, but reached a $130,000 deal a month before the election, which prevented her from going public.

Trump’s longtime attorney Michael Cohen arranged for the payment through Clifford’s lawyer, Keith Davidson, the Journal reported.

In a statement to the Journal, Cohen did not address his role in negotiating the supposed payment but said Trump denies any such relationship with Clifford. Clifford has previously denied an alleged relationship with Trump.

This afternoon, the White House issued a statement calling the Journal’s story “old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election.”

Cohen also accused the Journal of perpetuating “a false narrative for over a year.”

Just days before the 2016 election, the Journal published a story stating that the National Enquirer — run by David Pecker, a fervid supporter of Trump — had paid $150,000 to silence former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal about a sexual relationship she allegedly had with Trump a decade ago.

‘Mississippi Burning’ KKK leader Killen dies in prison at 92

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Edgar Ray Killen, a 1960s Ku Klux Klan leader who was convicted decades later in the “Mississippi Burning” slayings of three civil rights workers, has died in prison at the age of 92, the state’s corrections department announced Friday.

Killen was serving three consecutive 20-year terms for manslaughter when he died at 9 p.m. Thursday inside the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. An autopsy was pending, but no foul play was suspected, the statement said.

His conviction came 41 years to the day after James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, all in their 20s, were ambushed and killed by Klansmen.

The three Freedom Summer workers had been investigating the burning of a black church near Philadelphia, Mississippi. A deputy sheriff in Philadelphia had arrested them on a traffic charge, then released them after alerting a mob. Mississippi’s then-governor claimed their disappearance was a hoax, and segregationist Sen. Jim Eastland told President Lyndon Johnson it was a “publicity stunt” before their bodies were dug up.

The slayings shocked the nation, helped spur passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and were dramatized in the 1988 movie “Mississippi Burning.” The movie title came from the name of the FBI investigation.

Saudi stadiums open for women in a first to watch soccer

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi women were allowed into a sports stadium for the first time Friday to watch a soccer match between two local teams — though they were segregated in the stands from the male-only crowd with designated seating in the so-called “family section.”

The move was the first of Saudi Arabia’s social reforms planned for this year to ease restrictions on women, spearheaded by the kingdom’s 32-year-old crown prince. The kingdom has also announced that starting in June women will be allowed to drive, lifting the world’s only ban on female drivers.

More than just an incremental step toward greater rights, the presence of women in the sports stadium underscored a wider effort to integrate women in society and grant them more public visibility in a country where gender segregation is widely enforced and where most women cover their faces and hair with black veils and don loose-flowing black robes, known as abayas.

The first stadium to open its doors to women was in the Red Sea city of Jiddah. The stadium in the capital, Riyadh, will open to women on Saturday, followed by the western city of Dammam on Thursday.

At the Jiddah stadium Friday, young Saudi women wearing bright orange vests over their abayas were deployed to help with the female crowds. “Welcome to Saudi families,” read a sign in Arabic erected across the section of the stadium reserved for women.

Sex abuse, political turmoil overshadow pope in Chile, Peru

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis’ trip to Chile and Peru, originally aimed at highlighting the plight of indigenous peoples and the delicate Amazon ecosystem, is being overshadowed by the Catholic Church’s dismal record confronting priestly sex abuse in Chile and political turmoil in Peru.

On the eve of the trip, vandals attacked five churches with firebombs in the Chilean capital of Santiago and warned in a leaflet that “the next bombs will be in your cassock.” That was an unprecedented threat against the pope and a violent start to what were already expected to be the first-ever protests against Francis on a foreign trip.

The Vatican agreed to the Chile visit knowing that the local church had lost much of the moral authority it earned during the Pinochet dictatorship, when bishops spoke out against human rights abuses when other institutions were silenced. But now, the Catholic Church in Chile has been largely marginalized, criticized as out-of-touch with today’s secular youth and discredited by its botched handling of a notorious pedophile priest.

In Peru, Francis had hoped to highlight the need to protect the vast Amazon and its native peoples. But he now has to contend with a president who only narrowly escaped impeachment a few weeks ago, sparked massive protests by issuing a politically-charged pardon and is embroiled in a continentwide corruption scandal.

Here are things to look for in Francis’ Jan. 15-21 trip, his 22nd overall and sixth to his home continent.

 

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