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US, Mexico to meet as migrants flood southern border: The Morning Rundown, Dec. 27, 2023

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Top U.S. officials are heading to Mexico to discuss the surge in illegal migrant crossings at the U.S. southern border. And police in South Korea are investigating the death of an actor who starred in the Oscar-winning film “Parasite.” These stories and more highlight The Morning Rundown for Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023.

US officials to meet with Mexican president on rise of illegal border crossings

Top U.S. officials are set to speak with the Mexican government on Wednesday, Dec. 27, over the rise in migrants reaching the U.S. southern border, as a caravan of at least 7,000 people continues to make its way through Mexico hoping to reach the U.S. border. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Mexico City, along with Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and White House Homeland Security advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall.

The U.S. delegation will meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The State Department said they will discuss “unprecedented irregular migration in the western hemisphere and identify ways Mexico and the United States will address border security challenges.”

The Mexican president has said he is willing to help with the surge of migrants crossing the border, confirming last week U.S. officials want Mexico to do more to block migrants from its southern border with Guatemala. In exchange, López Obrador wants the U.S. to send more development aid to migrants’ home countries to stem their need to leave; the Mexican president also wants the U.S. to reduce or eliminate sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela, two of the top countries where migrants are coming from.

With daily illegal border crossings topping 10,000 this month, the U.S. briefly closed two railway border crossings in Texas while other closures remain in effect. The State Department said Blinken would discuss actions needed for the U.S. to reopen all crossings across the shared border with the Mexican president.

Top Israeli adviser, US officials meet in DC over war in Gaza

On Tuesday, Dec. 26, U.S. officials met in Washington with Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, a close adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a member of the country’s war cabinet, amid differences between the two countries on the scope of Israel’s operations and plans for what a post-war Gaza would look like. According to a White House official, Dermer met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan over several issues, including:

  • A transition to a different phase of the war to “maximize high-value Hamas targets.”
  • Practical steps to improve the humanitarian situation and minimize harm to civilians.
  • Efforts to bring home the remaining hostages taken by Hamas during the October terror attack.
  • Planning for the day after the end of the war.

The White House said this included “the governance and security of Gaza – a political horizon for the Palestinian people and continued work on normalization and integration.” The meeting comes as the Israeli government said it is planning for a new phase in fighting despite international calls for a cease-fire.    

Denver Police, FBI investigating threats against Colorado judges

The Denver Police Department said it is increasing patrols near the homes of Colorado Supreme Court justices following the court’s 4-3 ruling to disqualify former President Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential ballot. Both local law enforcement and the FBI said they are investigating threats made against the justices. 

According to SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks the online activity of extremist organizations, threats against the justices increased over the weekend, with some calling for them to be dragged from their homes, hanged, and shot.

“The Denver Police Department is currently investigating incidents directed at Colorado Supreme Court justices and will continue working with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to thoroughly investigate any reports of threats or harassment,” Denver police said.

Actor of Oscar-winning film ‘Parasite’ found dead in South Korea

South Korean authorities are investigating the death of 48-year-old actor Lee Sun-kyun, known for his role in the Oscar-winning film “Parasite.” Police said Lee’s body was found in a parked car in Seoul on Wednesday morning, Dec. 27, after his manager reported him missing earlier in the day.

Police said they are investigating his death as a suicide and added that he left behind what appeared to be a suicide note. Lee was facing accusations of illegal drug use; he denied the allegations. Lee had reportedly been rigorously questioned by police on several occasions, with Reuters reporting one round of questioning that lasted 19 hours. The actor said he was a target of blackmail.

Those who break South Korea’s strict drug laws could face up to 6 months in jail or, for repeat offenders, up to 14 years. Lee is survived by his wife and two sons.

Mastercard: US retail sales grew 3.1% this holiday season

Shoppers spent more money this holiday season than last year, according to a new report released Tuesday, Dec. 26, by Mastercard. U.S. retail sales rose 3.1% over last year from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24.

The data showed online retail sales increased 6.3% from last holiday season. As for in-store sales, they went up a more moderate 2.2%, but Mastercard said shopping in-store still makes up “a considerably larger portion of total spending.”

As for what everyone was spending their money on: apparel was one of the top categories, up 2.4%, and restaurants saw an increase of 7.8% as many wanted to celebrate the holiday season out of the kitchen.

Detroit Pistons set NBA record for single-season losing streak

History has been made on the basketball court, but it’s not a record any NBA team wants to achieve. On Tuesday night, Dec. 26, the Detroit Pistons lost their 27th consecutive game, setting the record for the longest single-season losing streak in NBA history.

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The Pistons fell to the Brooklyn Nets 118-112 in front of their hometown fans. Detroit has yet to win a game since Oct. 28.

Should the Pistons not win their next two games on Thursday, Dec. 28, and Saturday, Dec. 30, they will be the holders of another unpopular record, the NBA’s longest losing streak of all time. That title is currently held by the Philadelphia 76ers who lost 28 games across two seasons in 2015.

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TOP U.S. OFFICIALS ARE HEADING TO MEXICO TO DISCUSS THE SURGE IN ILLEGAL MIGRANT CROSSINGS

AND — POLICE IN SOUTH KOREA ARE INVESTIGATING THE DEATH OF AN ACTOR WHO STARRED IN THE OSCAR-WINNING FILM “PARASITE”

THE MORNING RUNDOWN STARTS NOW.

TODAY IS WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 27TH

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

I’M KARAH RUCKER.

TOP U.S. OFFICIALS ARE SET TO SPEAK WITH THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT TODAY OVER THE RISE IN MIGRANTS REACHING THE U.S. SOUTHERN BORDER – AS A CARAVAN OF AT LEAST SIX THOUSAND PEOPLE CONTINUE TO MAKE THEIR WAY THROUGH MEXICO TOWARD THE U.S.

SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN WILL TRAVEL TO MEXICO CITY — ALONG WITH SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS AND WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR LIZ SHERWOOD-RANDALL.

THE U.S. DELEGATION WILL MEET WITH MEXICAN PRESIDENT ANDRÉS (ON-DRASE) MANUEL (MAN-WELL) LÓPEZ (LOW-PEZ) OBRADOR (OBRA-DOOR).

THE STATE DEPARTMENT SAYING THEY WILL DISCUSS QUOTE “UNPRECEDENTED IRREGULAR MIGRATION IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE AND IDENTIFY WAYS MEXICO AND THE UNITED STATES WILL ADDRESS BORDER SECURITY CHALLENGES.”

THE MEXICAN PRESIDENT HAS SAID HE IS WILLING TO HELP WITH THE SURGE OF MIGRANTS CROSSING THE BORDER – CONFIRMING LAST WEEK U.S. OFFICIALS WANT MEXICO TO DO MORE TO BLOCK MIGRANTS FROM ITS SOUTHERN BORDER WITH GUATEMALA

IN EXCHANGE HE WANTS THE U.S. TO SEND MORE DEVELOPMENT AID TO MIGRANTS’ HOME-COUNTRIES TO STEM THEIR **NEED TO MIGRATE.

THE MEXICAN PRESIDENT ALSO WANTS THE U.S. TO REDUCE OR ELIMINATE SANCTIONS AGAINST CUBA AND VENEZUELA – TWO OF THE TOP COUNTRIES WHERE MIGRANTS ARE COMING FROM.

WITH DAILY ILLEGAL BORDER CROSSINGS TOPPING 10,000 THIS MONTH — THE U.S. BRIEFLY CLOSED TWO RAILWAY BORDER CROSSINGS IN TEXAS – WHILE OTHER CLOSURES REMAIN IN EFFECT.

THE STATE DEPARTMENT SAYING BLINKEN WILL DISCUSS WITH THE MEXICAN PRESIDENT ACTIONS NEEDED FOR THE U.S. TO REOPEN ALL CROSSINGS ACROSS THE SHARED BORDER.

ON TUESDAY – U.S. OFFICIALS MET IN WASHINGTON WITH ISRAEL’S MINISTER OF STRATEGIC AFFAIRS RON DERMER – A CLOSE ADVISER TO PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU AND A MEMBER OF THE COUNTRY’S WAR CABINET – AMID DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES ON THE SCOPE OF ISRAEL’S OPERATIONS AND PLANS FOR WHAT A POST-WAR GAZA WOULD LOOK LIKE.

ACCORDING TO A WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL – DERMER MET WITH SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN AND NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR JAKE SULLIVAN OVER SEVERAL ISSUES – INCLUDING

A TRANSITION TO A DIFFERENT PHASE OF THE WAR TO “MAXIMIZE HIGH-VALUE HAMAS TARGETS”.

PRACTICAL STEPS TO IMPROVE THE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND MINIMIZE HARM TO CIVILIANS.

EFFORTS TO BRING HOME THE REMAINING HOSTAGES.

AND PLANNING FOR THE DAY AFTER THE END OF THE WAR.

THE WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL SAID THIS INCLUDED “THE GOVERNANCE AND SECURITY OF GAZA – A POLITICAL HORIZON FOR THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE AND CONTINUED WORK ON NORMALIZATION AND INTEGRATION.”

THE MEETING COMES AS THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SAID IT IS PLANNING FOR A NEW PHASE IN FIGHTING DESPITE INTERNATIONAL CALLS FOR A CEASE-FIRE.

THE DENVER POLICE DEPARTMENT SAYS IT IS INCREASING PATROLS NEAR THE HOMES OF COLORADO SUPREME COURT JUSTICES FOLLOWING THE COURT’S RULING TO DISQUALIFY FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP FROM THE 20-24 PRESIDENTIAL BALLOT.

THE 4 TO 3 DECISION HAS RECEIVED HEAVY CRITICISM ONLINE – AND BOTH LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AND THE F-B-I SAY THEY ARE INVESTIGATING THREATS MADE AGAINST THE JUSTICES.

ACCORDING TO AN INTELLIGENCE ORGANIZATION THAT TRACKS THE ONLINE ACTIVITY OF EXTREMIST GROUPS  – THREATS AGAINST THE JUSTICES INCREASED OVER THE WEEKEND – SOME CALLING FOR THEM TO BE DRAGGED FROM THEIR HOMES, HANGED, AND SHOT.

IN A STATEMENT, THE DENVER POLICE DEPARTMENT SAID IT IS QUOTE

“CURRENTLY INVESTIGATING INCIDENTS DIRECTED AT COLORADO SUPREME COURT JUSTICES AND WILL CONTINUE WORKING WITH OUR LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT PARTNERS TO THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATE ANY REPORTS OF THREATS OR HARASSMENT.”

SOUTH KOREAN AUTHORITIES ARE INVESTIGATING THE DEATH OF 48-YEAR-OLD ACTOR LEE SUN-KYUN (LEE SUN-KY-UN) – KNOWN FOR HIS ROLE IN THE OSCAR-WINNING FILM ‘PARASITE.’

POLICE SAY LEE’S BODY WAS FOUND IN A PARKED CAR IN SEOUL (SOUL) WEDNESDAY MORNING — AFTER HIS MANAGER REPORTED HIM MISSING EARLIER IN THE DAY.

POLICE SAY THEY ARE INVESTIGATING HIS DEATH AS A SUICIDE. THEY SAY HE LEFT BEHIND WHAT APPEARED TO BE A SUICIDE NOTE.

LEE WAS FACING ACCUSATIONS OF ILLEGAL DRUG USE — HE DENIED THE ALLEGATIONS.

LEE HAD REPORTEDLY BEEN RIGOROUSLY QUESTIONED BY POLICE ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS – WITH REUTERS REPORTING ONE ROUND OF QUESTIONING LASTED 19-HOURS.  THE ACTOR SAID HE WAS A TARGET OF BLACKMAIL.

THOSE WHO BREAK SOUTH KOREA’S STRICT DRUG LAWS COULD FACE UP TO 6 MONTHS IN JAIL – OR FOR REPEAT OFFENDERS – UP TO 14 YEARS.

LEE IS SURVIVED BY HIS WIFE AND TWO SONS.

SHOPPERS SPENT MORE MONEY THIS HOLIDAY SEASON THAN LAST YEAR – ACCORDING TO A NEW REPORT RELEASED TUESDAY BY MASTERCARD.

US RETAIL SALES ROSE 3.1 PERCENT OVER LAST YEAR FROM NOVEMBER 1ST THROUGH DECEMBER 24TH.

TAKING A CLOSER LOOK AT THE DATA – **ONLINE** RETAIL SALES INCREASED 6.3 PERCENT FROM LAST HOLIDAY SEASON.

AS FOR IN-STORE SALES – THEY WENT UP A MORE MODERATE 2.2 PERCENT –

BUT MASTERCARD SAYS SHOPPING IN-STORE STILL MAKES UP “A CONSIDERABLY LARGER PORTION OF TOTAL SPENDING.”

AS FOR WHAT EVERYONE WAS SPENDING THEIR MONEY ON –

CLOTHES WAS ONE OF THE TOP CATEGORIES – UP TWO POINT FOUR PERCENT –– AND RESTAURANTS SAW AN INCREASE OF SEVEN POINT EIGHT PERCENT — AS MANY WANTED TO CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAY SEASON OUT OF THE KITCHEN.

FINALLY THIS MORNING – HISTORY HAS BEEN MADE ON THE BASKETBALL COURT — BUT IT’S NOT A RECORD ANY NBA TEAM WANTS TO ACHIEVE.

ON TUESDAY NIGHT — THE DETROIT PISTONS LOST THEIR 27TH CONSECUTIVE GAME – SETTING THE RECORD FOR THE LONGEST SINGLE-SEASON LOSING STREAK IN NBA HISTORY.

THE PISTONS FELL TO THE BROOKLYN NETS 118 TO 112 IN FRONT OF THEIR HOMETOWN FANS.

DETROIT HAS NOT WON A GAME SINCE OCTOBER 28TH.

SHOULD THE PISTONS NOT WIN THEIR NEXT TWO GAMES ON THURSDAY AND SATURDAY – THEY WILL BE THE HOLDERS OF ANOTHER UNPOPULAR RECORD – THE NBA’S LONGEST LOSING STREAK OF ALL TIME. THAT TITLE IS CURRENTLY HELD BY THE PHILADELPHIA SEVENTY SIXERS WHO LOST 28 GAMES ACROSS TWO SEASONS IN 20-15.

THESE ARE YOUR TOP STORIES FOR THIS WEDNESDAY.

YOU CAN NOW CONNECT WITH THE MORNING RUNDOWN IN A VARIETY OF WAYS — INCLUDING SUBSCRIBING TO OUR PODCAST OR SIGNING UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER.

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UNBIASED. STRAIGHT FACTS. THAT’S STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS.

WE’LL SEE YOU BACK HERE TOMORROW.

UNTIL THEN I’M KARAH RUCKER. HAVE A GREAT DAY!