Washington, Jan 12 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump says it would be easy for him just to declare a national emergency and find federal money to build a barrier along the southern border, but he's not going to be so quick to do that because he thinks lawmakers can do it.
Trump spoke during a discussion Friday at the White House with state, local and community leaders about border security and safe communities.
The president says the "easy solution is for me to call a national emergency ... but I'm not going to do it so fast."
Trump says, "This is something that Congress can do."
Attendees included state attorneys general, local elected leaders, faith leaders and federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom is calling President Donald Trump's threat to use disaster relief money to build a border wall "unconscionable."
The new Democratic governor says the proposal would take away money from California communities devastated by disaster to "pay for an immoral wall that America doesn't want or need."
The president earlier threatened to withhold federal emergency money for California's wildfire response.
Seven water-related California projects are on the chopping block. One includes raising parts of the Folsom Dam to prevent flood risk in the Sacramento region. The dam is one of the nation's five critical infrastructure dams.
President Donald Trump says his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border supports what he sees as a crisis of drugs and crime coming across.
He tweets that "it is a far worse situation than almost anyone would understand, an invasion!"
During a visit to the Texas border this week, Trump was presented with statistics on unauthorized crossings and an array of drugs seized by agents. But the drugs were intercepted at official points of entry, not the areas where Trump wants to build a wall. And when Trump traveled to the Rio Grande, there were no signs of invading hordes.
Trump is trying to get lawmakers to fund the wall as part of ending the partial government shutdown.
Vice President Mike Pence is pledging that the Trump administration will keep fighting to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Pence made that commitment during what was meant to be a morale-boosting appearance at the Washington headquarters for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
CBP agents are among the 800,000 federal employees who must work without pay during what is on track to become the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
Pence told several dozen agents that just as they fight daily for the nation's security, "this president and this administration will keep fighting to build the wall."
Just a few Republicans have joined Democrats as the House has voted to reopen some agencies closed by the partial federal shutdown.
The measure isn't expected to go anywhere in the GOP-controlled Senate, and the closure is continuing for a record-tying 21st day.
The vote shows that Republicans, at least in the House, remain largely behind President Donald Trump's demand for $5.7 billion in taxpayer money to start building his proposed border wall with Mexico.
The House voted by a near party-line 240-179 on Friday to reopen the Interior Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and some smaller agencies.
Ten Republicans joined all voting Democrats by voting "yes." The 10 defections were similar to the number of House Republicans who've supported other spending measures.
The government also closed for 21 days beginning in December 1995.
U.S. officials say the Pentagon is finalizing plans that would send hundreds of additional active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border for several more months to support the Department of Homeland Security and install another 160 miles (257 kilometers) of concertina wire in Arizona and California.
Details are being worked out, but the plan likely would extend the military's border mission though the end of September. The mission is separate from President Donald Trump's campaign to build a border wall but is designed to bolster security.
Officials said Friday the installation of the wire barrier is not expected to take that long, so troops doing that would be finished long before September.
There currently are 2,350 active-duty troops assigned to the border mission, which was slated to end Jan. 31.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details not yet approved.
Caracas, Jan 12 (AP/UNB) — The head of Venezuela's opposition-run congress said Friday that he is prepared to step into the nation's presidency temporarily to replace Nicolas Maduro, whose inauguration has been rejected as illegitimate by most countries in the hemisphere.
National Assembly President Juan Guaido made the statement to an energized crowd blocking a busy Caracas street a day after Maduro's inauguration to a second term.
"Guaido for president!" the crowd chanted. "Out with Maduro!"
But Guaido said he would need support from the public, the armed forces and the international community before trying to form a transitional government to hold new elections to replace Maduro.
"The constitution gives me the legitimacy to carry out the charge of the presidency over the country to call elections," Guaido said. "But I need backing from the citizens to make it a reality."
The head of the Organization of American States, Secretary-General Luis Almagro, wasn't waiting. He sent out a tweet recognizing Guaido as Venezuela's interim president. "You have our support," Almagro said in a tweet.
U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton later issued a statement praising Guaido, though he didn't echo Almagro's step of calling him the interim president.
Reiterating the U.S. position that the May election that gave Maduro a second term was "not free, fair or credible," Bolton said that "we support the courageous decision" of Guaido's declaration "that Maduro does not legitimately hold the country's presidency."
Guaido asked Venezuelans to mass in a nationwide demonstration on Jan. 23, a historically important date for Venezuelans — the day when a mass uprising overthrew dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez in 1958.
The constitution assigns the presidency to the head of the National Assembly if Maduro is illegitimate.
But the overall military so far has remained firmly behind Maduro, despite some reports of small-scale attempts at revolt.
A once wealthy oil nation, Venezuela is gripped by growing crisis of relentless inflation, food shortages and mass migration.
The announcement is a daring challenge to the socialist leader, who has rejected criticism of his re-election and whose government has imprisoned many leading critics.
Maduro accuses the United States and local foes of plotting a coup.
Seventeen Latin American countries, the United States and Canada denounced Maduro's government as illegitimate in a measure adopted Thursday at the Organization of American States in Washington.
In May, Maduro declared victory following an election that his political opponents and many foreign nations consider illegitimate, in part because popular opponents were banned from running and the largest anti-government parties boycotted the race.
Friday's demonstration was the largest showing of anti-government supporters in more than a year, but fell far short of the thousands that took to the streets over four months in 2017, leading to clashes in which more than 120 died.
Guaido, 35, made the announcement less than a week after being selected to lead Venezuela's National Assembly, vowing to press for transition of power.
Guaido has won some international support, speaking by phone this week with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
"We are not victims here. We are survivors and we are going to survive this," Guaido said. We are here to talk about the route, because there are no magical solutions."
Bangkok, Jan 12 (AP/UNB) — An 18-year-old Saudi woman who said she was abused by her family and feared for her life if deported back home left Thailand on Friday night for Canada, which has granted her asylum, officials said.
The fast-moving developments capped an eventful week for Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun. She fled her family while visiting Kuwait and flew to Bangkok, where she barricaded herself in an airport hotel to avoid deportation and grabbed global attention by mounting a social media campaign for asylum.
Her case highlighted the cause of women's rights in Saudi Arabia, where several women fleeing abuse by their families have been caught trying to seek asylum abroad in recent years and returned home. Human rights activists say many similar cases go unreported.
Alqunun is flying to Toronto via Seoul, South Korea, according to Thai immigration Police Chief Surachate Hakparn. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed his country had granted her asylum.
"That is something that we are pleased to do because Canada is a country that understands how important it is to stand up for human rights and to stand up for woman's rights around the world and I can confirm that we have accepted the U.N.'s request," Trudeau said.
Several other countries, including Australia, had been in talks with the U.N.'s refugee agency to accept Alqunun, Surachate said earlier in the day.
"She chose Canada. It's her personal decision," he said.
Canada's ambassador had seen her off at the airport, Surachate said, adding that she looked happy and healthy.
She thanked everyone for helping her, he said, and added that the first thing she would do upon arrival in Canada would be to start learning the language. She already speaks more than passable English, in addition to Arabic.
The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees welcomed Canada's decision.
"The quick actions over the past week of the government of Thailand in providing temporary refuge and facilitating refugee status determination by UNHCR, and of the government of Canada in offering emergency resettlement to Ms. Alqunun and arranging her travel were key to the successful resolution of this case," the agency said in a statement.
It wasn't immediately clear what prompted Alqunon to choose Canada over Australia. Australian media reported that UNHCR had withdrawn its referral for Alqunon to be resettled in Australia because Canberra was taking too long to decide on her asylum.
UNHCR officials were not immediately available for comment. Australia's Education Minister Dan Tehan said Saturday that Australia had moved quickly to process her case but Canada decided to take her in. He added that, ultimately, the outcome was a good one. "She's going to be safe," he said.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, cited Alqunun's "courage and perseverance."
"This is so much a victory for everyone who cares about respecting and promoting women's rights, valuing the independence of youth to forge their own way, and demanding governments operate in the light and not darkness," he said in a statement.
Alqunun was stopped Jan. 5 at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport by immigration police who denied her entry and seized her passport.
She barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and took her plight onto social media. It got enough public and diplomatic support that Thai officials admitted her temporarily under the protection of U.N. officials, who granted her refugee status Wednesday.
Alqunun's father arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday, but his daughter refused to meet with him. Surachate said the father — whose name has not been released — denied physically abusing Alqunun or trying to force her into an arranged marriage, which were among the reasons she gave for her flight. He said Alqunun's father wanted his daughter back but respected her decision.
"He has 10 children. He said the daughter might feel neglected sometimes," Surachate said.
Canada's decision to grant her asylum could further upset the country's relations with Saudi Arabia.
In August, Saudi Arabia expelled Canada's ambassador to the kingdom and withdrew its own ambassador after Canada's Foreign Ministry tweeted support for women's right activists who had been arrested. The Saudis also sold Canadian investments and ordered their citizens studying in Canada to leave.
No country, including the U.S., spoke out publicly in support of Canada in that spat with the Saudis.
On Friday, Trudeau avoided answering a question about what the case would mean for relations with the kingdom, but he said Canada will always unequivocally stand up for human rights and women's rights around the world.
Canadian officials were reluctant to comment further until she landed safely in Canada.
Alqunun had previously said on Twitter that she wanted to seek refuge in Australia.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne met Thursday with senior Thai officials in Bangkok. She later said Australia was assessing Alqunun's resettlement request.
Payne said she also raised Australia's concerns with Thai officials about Hakeem al-Araibi, a 25-year-old former member of Bahrain's national soccer team who was granted refugee status in Australia in 2017 after fleeing his homeland, where he said he was persecuted and tortured.
He was arrested while vacationing in Thailand in November due to an Interpol notice in which Bahrain sought his custody after he was sentenced in absentia in 2014 to 10 years in prison for allegedly vandalizing a police station — a charge he denies. Bahrain is seeking his extradition.
Al-Araibi's case is being considered by Thailand's justice system, she said.
Ottawa, Jan 12 (AP/UNB) — A double-deck city bus smashed into a transit shelter during Friday's rush hour, and Ottawa authorities said three people were killed and 23 injured.
Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said the bus driver was arrested after the crash, but he declined to provide details on why she was detained. He said police were still investigating the cause of the crash.
"Something led us to having to arrest the individual and take them to the station," Bordeleau said.
The crash took place west of downtown at 3:50 p.m., just as dusk was beginning to settle on the coldest day of the winter so far in Canada's capital
Two of the dead were riding the bus and one was on the platform at Westboro station, a major stop on the city's busway, Mayor Jim Watson said.
The vehicle apparently jumped the curb as it approached the station and plowed along the platform, where the roof of a shelter carved deep into the vehicle's second deck. The first seats on the upper level of the bus were crushed together.
Paramedics said a total of 25 people were taken to the hospital, suggesting one of the victims could not be revived at the scene and the other two died after arriving. Of those transported, 14 were in critical condition and 11 were in serious condition, paramedic chief Myles Cassidy said at a news conference.
"I want to send my deepest condolences to the families of victims and everyone affected by today's tragic bus crash," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted. "Thank you to the first responders who rushed to help — we're monitoring the situation closely."
The bus had a capacity of 90 people, both sitting and standing.
The crash snarled afternoon traffic as emergency crews descended on the scene.
In 2013, another Ottawa double-decker city bus broke through a warning gate and collided with a Via Rail train in suburban Barrhaven, killing six people as the train sheared off the front of the vehicle.
Washington, Jan 12 (AP/UNB) — The New York Times reports that law enforcement officials became so concerned by President Donald Trump's behavior in the days after he fired FBI Director James Comey that they began investigating whether he had been working for Russia against U.S. interests.
The report, published late Friday, cites unnamed former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.
Special counsel Robert Mueller took over the investigation when he was appointed soon after Comey's firing. The Times says it's unclear whether Mueller is still pursuing it.
Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the Times that he had no knowledge of the inquiry but said that since it was opened a year and a half ago and they hadn't heard anything, apparently "they found nothing."