Winter weather grips U.S. » Frigid weather is gripping much of the U.S. this morning. Officials from Montana to Maine to Georgia have been urging residents to take precautions amid the freezing cold.
HOGSETT: Real temperatures, when combined with wind chill, may very well fall to extraordinarily dangerous levels.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.
And New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy told residents on Tuesday…
MURPHY: When you get home today, do us a favor, please don’t go back out.
A polar vortex is bringing record-setting cold to wide swath of the U.S.
Many schools shut down as far south as Atlanta where residents dodged a winter storm that had been in the forecast. But like much of the country, they were not spared a hard freeze.
Farther north, effective temperatures plunged on Tuesday to 5 below in Chicago, minus 12 in Minneapolis and minus 21 in Fargo.
Senate Intel Committee examines top security threats to the U.S. » The Senate Intelligence Committee questioned senior U.S. officials on Tuesday about the biggest security challenges facing the United States.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said among the top threats…
WRAY: I think China at large is the most significant counterintelligence threat we face. We have economic espionage investigations, for example—that’s just one piece of it—in virtually every one of our 56 field offices.
He said the number of those investigations has doubled over the last few years, and almost all of them lead back to China. And Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told lawmakers …
COATS: China’s actions reflect a long-term strategy to achieve global superiority.
Officials believe China is willing to do that by any means necessary and that increasingly involves an alliance with Russia. Coats said Moscow and Beijing are “more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s.”
He said the U.S. is concerned about ongoing efforts to steal technology—both commercial and military—and further efforts to interfere in elections.
Coats also said that despite diplomatic progress with Pyongyang, North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear arsenal.
COATS: Its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival.
Coats also cited Iran’s stockpile of ballistic missiles as a major concern. And he added ISIS remains a threat.
Trump admin won’t rule out troop deployment near Venezuela » The Trump administration is not ruling out positioning military forces around Venezuela amid a power struggle in the country that many fear could turn violent. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: National Security Adviser John Bolton caused a stir on Monday after photographers captured a handwritten note on a legal pad he was carrying. The note said “5,000 troops to Colombia.”
Colombia borders Venezuela and Fox News reports the U.S. is thinking about pre-positioning forces there in case they’re needed.
On Tuesday, Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan told reporters he has not talked with Bolton about sending troops to Colombia. But he wouldn’t say whether he had other conversations about a deployment.
The Trump administration announced sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company this week as part of efforts to persuade President Nicolas Maduro to step down. And the White House says “all options are on the table.”
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.
Roger Stone pleads not guilty » President Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of making false statements, tampering with a witness, and obstructing special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Prosecutors accuse Stone of lying to Congress about his communication with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The indictment says Stone tried to discover WikiLeaks’ plans for releasing stolen documents and emails damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Stone says Mueller’s team isn’t finding the collusion they were looking for and is instead trying to “criminalize legitimate political inquiry.”
STONE: There is no Russian collusion. I had no collaboration with Wikileaks. I’m not charged with conspiracy. Believe me, if they could have made that case, they would have.
FBI agents arrested Stone last week. He was released on bond and is due to appear in court again on Friday.
Chinese human rights lawyer sentenced » A Chinese court this week sentenced a prominent human rights lawyer to several years in prison. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has that story.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: In a secret trial this week, a Chinese court sentenced Wang Quanzhang to 4-½ years in prison on charges of subverting state power.
The sentence came more than three years after he was detained in a sweeping crackdown on the legal profession.
Wang helped found the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group and was known for teaching Chinese villagers about their land and legal rights.
Human rights groups roundly condemned the sentence. Amnesty International China researcher Doriane Lau called it a “mockery of the ‘rule of law.’”
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.