Morning Update: Trump Blinks First

The US recognizes a new Venezuela leader, fuel thefts in Mexico, Cohen postpones testimony. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, Jan. 24.

To get this newsletter in your inbox, sign up right here.

Donald Trump says he will postpone the State of the Union until after the government shutdown

The president is backing down after a standoff with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi had insisted that Trump delay his upcoming speech until the government reopens, citing security concerns. After a tense back-and-forth, he is conceding to Pelosi’s demand.

Trump had reportedly considered giving the State of the Union address at another location, but Republicans encouraged him to stick with the plan to deliver it in the House chamber, the traditional venue for the annual speech.

The partial government shutdown has been going on since Dec. 22 and is now the longest in US history.

You should also read this: FBI agents across the country, who are working without pay, say they can’t do their jobs because of the shutdown.

Trump has recognized Venezuela’s opposition leader as president, and things are getting intense

Juan Guaidó, the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, told a crowd that he would serve as the country’s acting president. The move puts Guaidó in direct conflict with President Nicolás Maduro.

The Trump administration quickly put out a statement recognizing Guaidó as president. Canada, Colombia, Brazil, and Peru followed suit. Meanwhile, Mexico said it still recognizes Maduro as Venezuela’s president.

How did we get here and what happens next? Here’s the background and everything you need to know.


Five people were killed in a shooting inside a Florida bank. A suspect, 21-year-old Zephen Xaver, surrendered following a standoff with police at the SunTrust Bank in the city of Sebring. “Today has been a tragic day in our community,” the police chief said. The victims were not immediately identified.

A nurse has been arrested for raping a woman with “significant intellectual disabilities” who gave birth. Nathan Sutherland, 36, was still working at the Hacienda Healthcare facility in Phoenix when his DNA was found to match that of the patient's baby, police said. He’s charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse.

Blaming Trump’s “threats,” Michael Cohen won’t testify before Congress now, his lawyer says. Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis said in a statement that recent comments by Trump and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani had forced Cohen to put off the appearance.

Director Bryan Singer is accused of sexually assaulting underage boys in a new report. The director, who has long denied accusations of sexual misconduct against younger men, is now being accused of sexual assault of minors — including a 13-year-old boy on the set of his 1998 film Apt Pupil.

A cable in the middle of the ocean broke and now Tonga has almost no internet. As authorities scramble to fix the problem, they have blocked all social media networks so the limited bandwidth available can be used for vital services.

Fuel theft is rampant and it’s destroying Mexico’s farmland

Last week, nearly 100 Mexicans died in an explosion from a punctured pipeline. The incident revealed the full extent of a crisis that has long gone ignored — fuel theft is now out of control.

Members of local cartels and gangs have become adept at targeting Mexico’s vast network of pipelines. In the last year, they made more than 12,000 illegal taps, siphoning around 56,000 barrels of fuel a day.

Last week’s explosion is unprecedented. But its larger context is that the government had long turned a blind eye as gangs stole gasoline, and money poured into their coffers.

All of this fuel theft has created an environmental disaster that has left an oily layer across swaths of Mexico, threatening crops and the health of thousands of people. Read Karla Zabludovsky’s report on the damage it’s causing.

A woman mistakenly showed up for her Skype interview with Microsoft a month early. Her hilarious exchange with the company has gone viral.

Look, it’s a tough economy. People do what they can to stand out.

Scottish student Laura MacLean was excited for her Skype interview with Microsoft’s university recruitment team. So excited that she got up really early to prepare, because she really wants this opportunity.

When 11 a.m. rolled around and the Skype call didn’t come, she was worried. At 11:15, the panic set in. So she decided to send an email to find out what the deal was.

It turns out she was so excited that she forgot the interview was supposed to be on Feb. 18, not Jan. 18. People absolutely love how earnest she is. Here’s the exchange: