TRUMP FACING INTERNATIONAL BACKLASH OVER REFERRING TO AFRICAN COUNTRIES AS "SHITHOLES.": The U.N. human rights office says President Donald Trump's reported use of an expletive to describe Africa and other countries could "potentially damage and disrupt the lives of many people." Repeating the term attributed to Trump a day earlier, spokesman Rupert Colville says that "you cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as 'shitholes'." Colville said Friday that the comments, if confirmed, were "shocking and shameful" and "I'm sorry, but there's no other word one can use but racist." People briefed on the extraordinary Oval Office conversation confirmed the remarks, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss it publicly. White House spokesman Raj Shah did not deny them when asked.
TRUMP REFUSES TO ATTEND OPENING OF NEW LONDON EMBASSY BECAUSE HE DOESN'T LIKE THE NEIGHBORHOOD: Some British lawmakers questioned whether Trump would be welcome after he re-tweeted videos from a far-right British group and criticized London Mayor Sadiq Khan following a terror attack last year. But Trump said his decision, announced in a late-night tweet, was due to the president's concerns about the embassy's move from the tony Mayfair district to a far less fashionable area of London. The move, which ended a 200-year U.S. association with London's Grosvenor Square, was part of American efforts to secure diplomatic staff in compounds — a push tied to terror concerns after al-Qaida bombings at two U.S. embassies in East Africa a decade ago. "Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for 'peanuts,' only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!" Trump tweeted.
RIP VAN HOLDING BELIEVES DREAMER CHILDREN SHOULD BE PUNISHED FOR THEIR PARENTS CRIMES: Rep. George Holding, a Raleigh Republican, said he would not vote for any immigration bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children. As negotiations between President Donald Trump, the Senate and House continue over what to do with people who had been protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Holding’s stance offers a glimpse at how difficult it could be to solve the problem. “I’d be willing to look for a way for them to have a status so they stay. But becoming a citizen? I don’t believe so. I think people need to understand that breaking the law has consequences. So an adult who brings a child in and all of a sudden they say, ‘Oh, it was a child. They didn’t know.’ You are a parent. You are an adult. Breaking the law has consequences and that will flow down to your children.”
NC'S HOUSE AND SENATE REPUBLICANS HAVE DIFFERENT IDEAS ON HOW TO SCREW OVER JUDGES: A joint House and Senate committee met for the first time Thursday to hammer out details, but it's clear that the two chambers have very different ideas about what the overhaul should include. Senate Republicans are proposing to give themselves and the governor the authority to decide who sits on trial and appellate courts, including the state Supreme Court. Those are all elected offices, and aside from District Court judgeships, voters would have to approve a constitutional amendment to make them appointed. Meanwhile, House Republicans are backing a plan that would force an estimated 40 to 50 percent of the state's black judges into districts where they would have to run against each other to retain a seat on the bench. Rep Justin Burr, R-Stanly, who drew the new judicial maps that the full House approved in October, said Thursday that he wasn't aware of the race of the judges who would be forced out.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND BAD PLANNING INCREASING COSTS OF WEATHER-RELATED DISASTERS: With three strong hurricanes, wildfires, hail, flooding, tornadoes and drought, the United States tallied a record high bill last year for weather disasters: $306 billion. The U.S. had 16 disasters last year with damage exceeding a billion dollars, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday. That ties 2011 for the number of billion-dollar disasters, but the total cost blew past the previous record of $215 billion in 2005. The increase in billion-dollar weather disasters is likely a combination of more flooding, heat and storm surge from climate change along with other non-climate changes, such as where buildings are put, where people move and how valuable their property is, said Deke Arndt, NOAA’s climate monitoring chief. “Perhaps it is time to mandate urban development in a more resilient and sustainable manner given the increasing frequency of weather extremes, especially along the nation’s coasts,” Susan Cutter, director of the University of South Carolina’s Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute, said in an email.