Thursday morning news, January 30, 2020

President Trump signs U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement » President Trump on Wednesday signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement into law. It is a major rewrite of the trade agreement known as NAFTA. 

The president put pen to paper at an outdoor signing ceremony and told those gathered at the White House—quote— “we’re finally ending the NAFTA nightmare.”

TRUMP: This is a colossal victory for our farmers, ranchers, energy workers, factory workers, and American workers in all 50 states, and you could almost say beyond. 

And the president wasn’t the only one celebrating the signing of the USMCA. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi touted changes to the original bill that House Democrats negotiated. 

PELOSI: The differences in enforcement, about protecting American workers, protecting the environment, and the prescription drug piece of that. 

Trump made replacing NAFTA a top priority in his 2016 campaign.

The auto industry is a major focus of the USMCA. It requires automakers to get 75 percent of their production content from within North America to qualify for the pact’s duty-free benefits. That means more auto content would have to come from North America, not imported more cheaply from China and elsewhere.

And at least 40 percent of vehicles would also have to originate in places where workers earn at least $16 an hour. 

The leaders of the United States, Canada, and Mexico signed the deal in late 2018. Canada has yet to formally ratify the agreement. 

Senators submit written questions to impeachment managers, defense team » With opening arguments wrapped up in the impeachment trial, senators are now getting a chance to ask questions, but only in writing. 

AUDIO: Mr. Chief Justice — senator from Iowa — I send a question to the desk. 

Senators on Wednesday submitted questions to the presiding officer, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who then read them to House impeachment managers and the president’s legal team. 

The question-and-answer session can last up to 16 hours, and is expected to resume today. It allows lawyers on both sides to make their final points before the senators take a vote on whether to hear witnesses.

Roughly 200 Americans evacuated from Wuhan arrive in California » Amid the coronavirus outbreak in China, a jetliner evacuating roughly 200 Americans from the city of Wuhan arrived at a California military base Wednesday. 

Dr. Chris Braden with the Centers for Disease Control told reporters…

BRADEN: The coronavirus is spreading rapidly, we think, in China. We think it is appropriate that our citizens who are at the epicenter of that outbreak in Wuhan be repatriated home for their own safety. 

The jet touched down at March Air Reserve Base near Los Angeles after a refueling stop in Anchorage, Alaska. During that stop, a ground crew wearing masks and white protective clothing screened everyone on board for symptoms. Health officials also screened them in Wuhan before they boarded the plane. 

Officials say some passengers with a cough, fever, or shortness of breath remained in Anchorage for further assessment.

Those who arrived in California yesterday will undergo additional screenings. And they’ll be temporarily quarantined until health officials can be sure they’re healthy. 

White House defends Middle East peace plan » White House adviser Jared Kushner is defending the Middle East peace proposal that President Trump unveiled on Tuesday—after Palestinian leaders angrily rejected it. Kushner played a key role in drafting the plan. He said Wednesday that the Palestinians rejected it before they even saw it, but he urged them to take another look. 

KUSHNER: It doubles the territory that they have the ability to have, and it gives them a lot of economic incentives, if they’re willing to change their governance structures. You need to have freedom of the press. You need to have respect for human rights. You need to have credible institutions that can run a state. 

But he said the deal gives the Palestinians “a pathway to really achieve everything that they’ve always spoken about.”

Meantime, Israel has postponed a move to annex large parts of the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said the Cabinet would vote Sunday on extending Israeli sovereignty to dozens of Jewish settlements as well as the Jordan Valley. But that risks provoking backlash from the Palestinians and the international community.

Pentagon raises number of U.S. service members injured in Iranian missile attack » The Pentagon on Tuesday raised the number of U.S. service members who suffered brain injuries in Iran’s recent missile strike. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has more. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Military officials now say 50 service members suffered traumatic brain injuries in Iran’s missile strike earlier this month on an Iraqi air base.

The White House initially said no Americans were harmed. But the Pentagon later reported that 11 service members had injuries before raising that total to 34, and now 50. 

Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Colonel Thomas Campbell, said the 16 additional service members were diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. Of the 50, he said 31 have returned to duty.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen.

(Senate Television via AP) In this image from video, presiding officer Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts reads a question from a senator during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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