Spain grapples with surging number of teenage migrants


Slouched on a bench at a Barcelona police station, five teenagers waited patiently on a recent Friday evening to find out where they would sleep that night: a shelter for young migrants or on that bench.

Earlier that day, another group of boys had been successfully transferred to a nearby shelter, but it was uncertain if any more beds were available.

The boys from Morocco and Sub-Saharan Africa had all entered southern Spain as unaccompanied minors, crossing from Morocco on what this year has become the biggest migrant route into Europe. Like thousands of other teenagers, mostly Moroccans, they made their way to Barcelona, a city known to many of them for its legendary soccer club.

Official figures show that 11,174 unaccompanied minors were registered from January until the end of September — up from 6,414 in all of 2017.

Sabir, 13, tried to explain why he made the perilous journey, leaving his mother behind.

“The reason every Moroccan comes to Spain: To work,” he said. The Associated Press is identifying the boys interviewed for this story only by their first name in line with Spanish privacy rules on minors.

To many, life in Spain is not what they had imagined.

Instead of finding work, which many are too young for anyway, they end up being transferred between reception centers or sleeping in the streets as authorities struggle to provide housing. Some get caught up in drugs and petty crime in Barcelona.

Spain has seen growing numbers of migrants after Italy began to stem the flow of sea arrivals from Libya last year. But the reasons for the surge in Moroccan boys are unclear, though high youth unemployment and a government crackdown on protesters in the northern Rif region are believed to be among them.

Barcelona, the capital of the prosperous Catalonia region, has been particularly affected. It’s a popular destination for many boys partly because it’s relatively close to the border with France, where some of the boys hope to go eventually.

The surge in minors prompted Catalan authorities to open 120 shelters with over 2,000 beds in less than a year, including in small rural towns.

“The volume of arrivals of children traveling alone in Catalonia has been absolutely disproportionate,” said Georgina Oliva, who heads the regional government office responsible for the minors.

According to local figures, there are over 3,000 unaccompanied minors in Catalonia. The number is three times higher than that recorded by the Interior Ministry, highlighting the difficulty in keeping track of the young migrants, some of whom run away from the shelters they’re assigned to.

Sabir left a shelter in a small Catalan town and returned to Barcelona together with Astraf, a 17-year-old from Tangiers, Morocco.

“No one likes to live in the mountains,” Astraf said.

More than 57,000 migrants of all ages have arrived in Spain this year, most of them by sea, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. That’s a 130 percent increase since last year, and means that Spain has overtaken Italy and Greece as the main entry point for migrants coming to Europe.

Overall, the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean is down about 30 percent from last year.

For Oriol Amoros, who heads the office in charge of migration in Catalonia, the young age of the migrants is more worrisome than their numbers.

“From a demographic point of view, it is a not a very big influx, but it is an influx of very vulnerable people who require a considerable effort when receiving them,” he said, highlighting that minors are by law entitled to legal protection, care and education.

Spain has adopted a more welcoming attitude toward migrants than many other European countries under the center-left government that took power this year. But not everyone concurs. An upstart far-right political party campaigning against migrants — particularly Muslims — recently won its first seats in a regional assembly in the southern region of Andalusia, the entry point for many migrants coming to Spain.

Sixteen-year-old Alhadji arrived in Spain in July after fleeing poverty in his native Guinea-Bissau two years ago. He is among 110 underage boys from Sub-Saharan Africa set up in a hotel on the outskirts of Barcelona, where he shares a room with four other teenagers. On the wall hangs a photo of soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo wearing a Real Madrid shirt.

Alhadji is learning to read and write at the shelter; his family couldn’t afford to send him to school at home. Despite the hospitality he’s received, Alhadji knows he’s one of thousands of minors seeking better opportunities, and it will take time before he gets the necessary permits to live and work legally in Spain. If he’s lucky, he’ll get them before he turns 18.

“They help you a bit. It’s not easy, there’s a lot of people, it is not just you,” he said.

In another part of Barcelona, a small group of young Moroccans inhaled fumes from a cloth damped with cleaning chemicals outside an internet café. The youngest was 11 and said he smuggled himself into Spain by hiding underneath a truck. Three of the boys said they had left their shelters in rural Catalonia and would sleep in the streets that night.

A Moroccan man passing by stopped to speak with them in Arabic. Mohammed el-Khamraoui said he sympathized with the boys because just like them, he had entered Spain illegally a decade ago aged 15.

“When I see the boys like this, I can’t even say anything,” said el-Khamraoui, who now works as a cook. “It hurts my soul because I’ve been in this situation.”



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Ultraprecise atomic clock network on the hunt for dark matter


Researchers are putting a global network of the most precise timekeepers ever made to the task of hunting for dark matter, the invisible and largely intangible substance that researchers think makes up about five-sixths of all matter in the universe.

The existence of dark matter is suggested via its gravitational effects on the movements of stars and galaxies. However, it remains a mystery as to what it might be composed of, and projects ranging from the most powerful atom smasher ever built to vats of chilly liquid xenon have failed to find a trace of it so far, lead study author Piotr Wcisło, a physicist at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland, told Space.com.

Scientists have largely eliminated all known particles as possible explanations for dark matter. One remaining possibility is that dark matter is made of a new kind of particle; another is that dark matter is not made of particles at all, but rather a field that pervades space much like gravity does. [8 Baffling Astronomy Mysteries]

Previous research suggested that if dark matter is a field, structures could emerge within it — “topological defects” shaped like points, strings or sheets and potentially reaching at least the size of a planet, Wcisło said. These structures might have formed during the chaos after the Big Bang, and essentially froze into stable forms when the early universe cooled down.

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Now scientists are testing the existence of dark-matter fields by looking for disturbances in some of the most accurate scientific instruments ever constructed — atomic clocks. These instruments keep time by monitoring the quivering of atoms, much as grandfather clocks rely on swinging pendulums. Nowadays, atomic clocks are so accurate that they would lose no more than 1 second every 15 billion years, longer than the 13.8-billion-year age of the universe.

Interacting with a topological defect could make an atomic clock’s atoms temporarily shake faster or slower. By monitoring a network of synchronized atomic clocks that are spread far enough apart for a topological defect to have an effect on some clocks but not others, scientists could detect the existence of these ghostly structures and measure some of their properties, such as their size and speed.

The researchers employed optical atomic clocks, which use laser beams to measure the motions of atoms when they are slowed down by cooling them to temperatures near absolute zero. They calculated that passing through a topological defect could increase or decrease the fine-structure constant, which describes the overall strength of the electromagnetic force. Such changes would alter how atoms respond to lasers and the rate at which those clocks ticked.

Another possible explanation for dark matter is that its effects are caused by fields that vary in strength over time, which in turn lead to regular fluctuations in the strength of the electromagnetic field. Atomic clocks could, in theory, help detect such “coherently oscillating classical scalar fields,” the scientists noted.

By analyzing four atomic clocks on three continents — in Colorado, France, Poland and Japan — the researchers could look for subtle variations in the fine-structure constant with about 100 times greater sensitivity than previous experiments. However, they did not detect any signal consistent with dark matter.

One of the major problems of optical atomic clocks is that they can currently only operate continuously for about a day, Wcisło said. One reason for this is that optical atomic clocks need to keep many lasers operating in sync in order to work, and over time at least one of these lasers fall out of sync. However, Wcisło noted a key advantage of their network is that it does not require all its clocks to operate at the same time.

The scientists aim to double the number of clocks in their network in the next year or two, Wcisło said, which could increase the sensitivity and observation time of their network by a factor of 10 or more.

The scientists detailed their findings online today (Dec. 7) in the journal Science Advances.

Original article on Space.com.



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'Truth isn't truth' tops list of notable quotes in 2018


The assertion that “truth isn’t truth,” made by a personal attorney for President Donald Trump, tops a Yale Law School librarian’s list of the most notable quotes of 2018.

Rudy Giuliani’s statement came in an August interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” when he told host Chuck Todd that Trump might “get trapped into perjury” if he were interviewed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

It was one of several Trump-related quotations on the list assembled by Fred Shapiro, an associate director at the library.

The yearly list is an update to “The Yale Book of Quotations,” which was first published in 2006. Shapiro chooses quotes that are famous or revealing of the spirit of the times, and not necessarily eloquent or admirable.



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Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin attend major donor's family wedding in India


Hillary Clinton and her closest confidant Huma Abedin traveled to India this weekend to attend a lavish wedding hosted by the country’s richest family that has generously donated to the Clinton Foundation.

The former Democratic presidential candidate and her aide are attending a nearly weeklong celebration of the marriage of Isha Ambani, the 27-year-old daughter of Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest and the world’s 19th richest man whose wealth valued around $43 billion.

The presence of Clinton and Abedin is unsurprising since the bride’s father has been working with Clinton’s foundation for years, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to the controversial non-profit.

Clinton also reportedly dined with the Ambanis in March after her speech at a conference in Mumbai.

She visited the family’s Mumbai home named Antilia that has 27 stories, three helipads and rumored to be the second most expensive property in the world – just after Buckingham Palace in England, according to the Washington Post.

The attendees of the wedding – including Arianna Huffington, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas, and much of the Bollywood – were flown in by private planes and brought by luxury sedans.

They were given access to an app that detailed the wedding’s activities. On Sunday, Beyoncé performed at the pre-wedding party. The artist posted a photo on Instagram of one of her outfits and a video giving a sneak peak of her performance.

In this Sunday, Dec.9, 2018 photo, singer Beyonce arrives at the Udaipur airport in Rajasthan, India. According to local reports Beyonce was in India to perform at a pre-wedding celebration of for Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal.

In this Sunday, Dec.9, 2018 photo, singer Beyonce arrives at the Udaipur airport in Rajasthan, India. According to local reports Beyonce was in India to perform at a pre-wedding celebration of for Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal.
(AP Photo/Rohit Kothari)

According to the Daily Mail, Abedin is attending the wedding with Clinton as her aide rather than on her own as another attendee of the ceremony.

The bride shared a picture of picture with Clinton, with Abedin seen in the background.

But Clinton isn’t attending the main night on Wednesday, when the wedding ceremony will actually occur, and reportedly flew back home on Monday.

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It remains unclear if Bill Clinton was also scheduled to attend the wedding. Both Clintons were seen together during the funeral of George H.W. Bush.

The Clintons recently kick-started their speaking tour, which is currently on pause and set to return in the coming months.

The tour so far hasn’t been the resounding success once could have hoped for, with the former president and former secretary of state speaking in largely empty audiences, while the ticket prices are plummeting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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US Army eyes new automatic rifle that fires with pressure equivalent to tank: report


A new Army assault rifle will tear through any body armor with the pressure of a battle tank, strike from unprecedented ranges, and withstand the rigors of weather, terrain and soldier use, Army Chief of Staff. Gen. Mark Milley told The Military Times.

The new 6.8mm rifles, which are expected to be in use by 2022, will offer major improvements in capabilities over the decades-old M16 and M4 weapons, the Army claims.

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The “Next Generation Squad Weapon program,” is an Army initiative but has had input from Marines and special operations forces, according to The Times. Milley has described it as “better than any weapon on earth today, by far,” and a “pretty impressive gun.”

The so-called Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR) will “weigh less, shoot farther, and pack more punch than the service’s existing infantry weapons,” Col. Geoffrey A. Norman told Task & Purpose.

The goal, Norman said, is to equip soldiers with rifles that fire “a small bullet at the pressure equivalent to what a tank would fire.”

Norman cited the Army’s shift from the urban environments of Iraq and Syria to the open terrain of Afghanistan and “near-peer threats like Russia.”

“For the past 10 or 15 years, we’ve been really focused on the requirement of lethal effects against unprotected targets,” Norman said. “Now we’re looking at near-peer threats like Russia and others. We need to have lethal effects against protected targets and we need to have requirements for long-range lethality in places like Afghanistan, where you’re fighting from mountaintop to mountaintop over extended ranges.”

The upgrades in soldiers’ weaponry will necessarily require changes in training, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt told The Times.



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Wharton professor writes op-ed arguing against academics being paramount


A university professor has penned an op-ed in The New York Times arguing that academic success in college does not necessarily guarantee success in later life.

“The evidence is clear: Academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence,” wrote Adam Grant, a Professor of Psychology at Wharton, in his essay “What Straight-A Students Get Wrong.”

Grant described watching his students over the years obsess over achieving perfect grades, often to the detriment of their own health. But perfect grades, he argued, often come at the expense of other qualities, like creativity and leadership.

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“Getting straight A’s requires conformity. Having an influential career demands originality,” Grant wrote.

As proof of his claims, Grant cited famous people who did above average or poorly in school. Steve Jobs, for instance, “finished high school with a 2.65 G.P.A.” and “J.K. Rowling graduated from the University of Exeter with roughly a C average.”

Rather than taking easy classes so as not to ruin their perfect G.P.A., Grant proposed students take difficult classes that take them outside their comfort zones – even at the risk of getting a B.

Detractors who disagreed with Grant’s take have called his piece “simplistic,” “filled with inaccurate stereotypes” and reeking of privilege, ABC 13 reported.

Grant concluded the piece by lamenting the long hours he spent as a student “memorizing the inner workings of the eye” rather than “trying out improv comedy.”

Employers, Grand said, should it make clear they “value skills over straight A’s,” while students need to “[r]ecognize that underachieving in school can prepare you to overachieve in life.”



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Biggest celebrity social media blunders of 2018


Celebrities are constantly sharing their thoughts on social media, and while for the most part, it’s entertaining for fans, sometimes their posts spark controversy instead.

As a result, the stars find themselves facing major backlash.

Here are the ones that had us talking throughout the year:

Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian came under fire on Halloween for calling people who didn't recognize her costume the R-word.

Kim Kardashian came under fire on Halloween for calling people who didn’t recognize her costume the R-word.
(AP)

Kim Kardashian came under fire on Halloween for calling people who didn’t recognize her costume the R-word.

On October 31st, the “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” star documented herself on Instagram at her sister Kendall Jenner’s Halloween party asking guests if they knew who she and best friend Jonathan Cheben were dressed up as.

“Okay guys, we are Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee,” Kardashian, 38, said according to People.

“Nobody knows who we are here!” she continued. “You guys are all too f–king young. This is so sad.”

Per People, in a separate video, the KKW Beauty mogul is heard telling former assistant Stephanie Shepherd: “Nobody knows who I am. Yeah! R—-d.”

Fans immediately took to Twitter to express their distaste with the reality star’s remark, which prompted Kardashian to take down the video and apologize.

“I want to apologize for what I said in a recent video post that is inappropriate and insensitive to the special needs community,” she said in a statement to E! News.

“I try to learn from my mistakes, and this is one of those times. Please know that my intention is always pure, and in this case, it was a mistake. I’m sorry.”

Bette Midler

Bette Midler found herself in hot water in November for showing disrespect to first lady Melania Trump.

In November, the 72-year-old actress posted a picture on Twitter of Melania posing in a cockpit for a GQ photo shoot, and included a vulgar, insulting caption.

“The dry cleaning bill for the upholstery on Air Force One must be insane. #FLOTITS,” Midler wrote.

Social media users immediately went on Twitter to slam the star and called on her to apologize to the first lady.

“Why are you doing this? Haven’t you had enough of bashing this poor woman? She was a model, so what. Don’t hate. You really just made a fool of yourself with such a catty comment. Did you feel better after posting this? That made you feel good? You should apologize,” one Twitter user wrote.

Armie Hammer

Armie Hammer was slammed for his tweet criticizing other celebrities' tributes to legendary Marvel superheroes creator, Stan Lee.

Armie Hammer was slammed for his tweet criticizing other celebrities’ tributes to legendary Marvel superheroes creator, Stan Lee.
(Getty Images)

Armie Hammer faced backlash after he criticized celebrities for their tributes to Stan Lee following the death of the legendary Marvel superheroes creator in November.

“So touched by all of the celebrities posting pictures of themselves with Stan Lee… no better way to commemorate an absolute legend than putting up a picture of yourself,” Hammer wrote in a since-deleted tweet.

Social media users immediately slammed Hammer for criticizing how others grieved a person’s death. Many people said the photos may have captured a good memory they had with Lee that they wanted to share publicly.

Following the backlash, Hammer issued an apology.

“While attempting to provide some unnecessary social commentary about the current selfie culture, I (in true a–hat form – thank you Jeffrey Dean Morgan) inadvertently offended many who were genuinely grieving the loss of a true icon,” the 32-year-old actor wrote.

“I want to apologize from the bottom of my heart and will be working on my Twitter impulse control.”

 

Roseanne Barr

In May, Roseanne Barr posted a racist tweet about former President Obama’s aide Valerie Jarrett, stating that Jarrett, an African-American who was born in Iran, is like the “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby.”

Barr, 66, immediately faced massive backlash, and her namesake show was canceled just hours after, with ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey saying the network would not produce the second season of the “Roseanne” reboot.

“Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” Dungey told Fox News at the time.

In response, Barr apologized and quit Twitter.

“I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me — my joke was in bad taste,” she wrote. She has since rejoined the social media site.

Patrick J. Adams

In May, actor Patrick J. Adams issued an apology after fans accused him of body shaming a woman in his social media post.

In May, actor Patrick J. Adams issued an apology after fans accused him of body shaming a woman in his social media post.
(Getty)

After attending the royal wedding in May, “Suits” star and former on-screen husband of Meghan Markle, Patrick J. Adams came under fire for body shaming a woman in a social media post.

According to screenshots captured by some tabloids at the time, a woman reportedly saw Adams in a newspaper attending the wedding and chose to tell him that she found the photo of him and his wife, Troian Bellisario, “terrible” explaining that he looked “chunky.”

When she later fell asleep at the airport the 37-year-old actor posted her image, prompting fans and critics alike to accuse him of body-shaming her in retaliation for her rudeness.

After apparently mulling it over, Adams took the photo down and replaced it with an apology message on Instagram.

PewDiePie

YouTube star PewDiePie apologized in July for posting a controversial meme, which reportedly mocked pop star Demi Lovato’s apparent overdose.

YouTube star PewDiePie apologized in July for posting a controversial meme, which reportedly mocked pop star Demi Lovato’s apparent overdose.
(iStock)

Earlier this year, YouTube star PewDiePie apologized for a controversial meme he posted that reportedly mocked pop star Demi Lovato’s apparent overdose.

PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, shared a now-deleted meme in July that allegedly showed Lovato asking her mother for money to purchase a burger, but then spending the cash on heroin, CNET reported at the time.

Heroin is the drug TMZ initially reported was the cause of the singer’s alleged overdose, though a source later told Fox News that “it’s not heroin.”

“Deleted meme. I didn’t mean anything with it and I didn’t fully know about the situation. I realize now it was insensitive, sorry!” the YouTuber said after he received backlash from many of Lovato’s fans.

Lorde

Lorde was blasted by social media users in April after she posted a photo of a bathtub with Whitney Houston references.

Lorde was blasted by social media users in April after she posted a photo of a bathtub with Whitney Houston references.
(Reuters)

Earlier this year, New Zealand pop star Lorde was slammed by social media users for using Whitney Houston lyrics as a caption for an Instagram picture she posted of a bathtub, a reference to the singer’s drowning death.

“And iiii will always love you,” Lorde wrote on Instagram in April along with a photo of a luxurious bathtub. The lyrics are from one of Houston’s biggest hits — her cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.”

Social media users slammed the “Royals” singer for the post, which many deemed as insensitive.

“Whitney Houston & her daughter both overdosed in bathtubs. If Lorde truly didn’t know then okay but it’s not believable,” one person wrote.

The photo along with Lorde’s apology have since been taken down from her Instagram page.



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Your preferred beer reveals your personality traits, study claims


If you’re staying in this Saturday, you enjoy a good documentary, and you value arts over sports, then chances are you’re an ale drinker, according to new research.

A new study of 1,000 beer drinkers found that the type of beer you prefer may actually reveal a lot more than you think about your personality.

The survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Founders Brewing Company, pitted the two factions of beer against each other and found that lager drinkers — or easygoing beer drinkers who prefer something less hoppy — also tend to be more goal-oriented and sociable.

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Lager drinkers are more likely to describe their ideal Saturday night as going out with friends, while ale drinkers lean more towards curling up on the couch and hanging out with Netflix.

You've been meaning to catch up on "Sabrina," after all.

You’ve been meaning to catch up on “Sabrina,” after all.
(iStock)

Interestingly, lager drinkers report higher stress levels than ale drinkers, which may be because they report being more likely to work hard and show up on time for work.

But despite that, ale drinkers are the more likely bunch to say they’re happy with their job and leading a fulfilling life, overall.

Lager lovers also tend to spend more time worrying about their future than their easygoing ale-admiring counterparts, but they are more confident and more likely to love meeting new people.

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But no matter what they prefer, beer drinkers tend to be a bit set in their ways, as the average beer drinker hasn’t switched up their favorite beer in four years. Not only that, over one in three beer drinkers (36 percent) say they’re intimidated by craft beers.

“Our portfolio has a little something for everyone, especially the lager and ale lovers, and we hope to break down any resistance to trying new flavors, types and experiences with the right beer in hand,” said Mike Stevens, CEO of Founders.

In addition to discovering the differences between lager and ale drinkers, the study also went on to unveil some rather interesting habits of beer drinkers.

For example, the survey revealed that ‘Beer o’clock’ — officially the best time to have a beer — is exactly 6:31 p.m. on a Friday. And, yes, taste really matters. More people are in it for the taste than you may think: 52 percent rank taste first in making their beer selection.

The survey revealed that ‘Beer o’clock’ — officially the best time to have a beer — is exactly 6:31 p.m. on a Friday.

The survey revealed that ‘Beer o’clock’ — officially the best time to have a beer — is exactly 6:31 p.m. on a Friday.
(iStock)

Catching up over a beer is one of American beer drinkers’ favorite pastimes, and the study found that how men and women go about those catch-ups varies quite a bit. For men, 57 percent say their heart-to-hearts with friends over drinks will include talking about the latest sports news, while 46 percent say it also includes talking about movies and TV. For women, on the other hand, 65 percent reported their heart-to-hearts include gossip about friends, with their dating life being the second most popular topic.

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Stevens finds much to relate to in these results: “We encourage all our fans to drink responsibly, but if you’re in the camp that has not changed your beer preference in years it’s time to try something new,” he said.

“It’s never been a better time to be a beer lover,” added Stevens. “The quality and range of craft beer is so high you’re going to find something you like; whether that’s lager or ale, or an experimental beer like our barrel-aged series, push the boundaries, flex your palate and enjoy the journey.”



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FOX NEWS FIRST: Trump, Pelosi, Schumer to have showdown over shutdown; Jared Kushner speaks out in FOX exclusive


Welcome to FOX News First. Not signed up yet? Click here.
 
Developing now, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018

  • President Trump is scheduled to meet with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer at the White House as both sides look to avert a possible partial government shutdown
  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai is expected to tell a House committee that the tech giant does not hold political biases and is a platform for diverse views, according prepared remarks before his scheduled testimony on Tuesday
  • A status hearing in the case of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on whether he violated his plea agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller is scheduled to take place on Tuesday
  • The status of Brexit remains uncertain after British Prime Minister postponed a Parliament vote on Monday
  • In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with FOX News’ Sean Hannity, Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner insisted the White House is operating effectively, despite administration changes
  • Five missing U.S. Marines that were on aircraft that crashed off the coast of Japan last week have been declared dead as the search for their remains has ended

THE LEAD STORY – TRUMP, DEMS LOOK TO PLAY LET’S MAKE A DEAL: President Trump will meet with Democratic congressional leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday as both sides look to avoid a partial government shutdown before a Dec. 21 deadline There are several items on the to-do list for Democrats and Republicans: A major farm bill; a formal rebuke of Saudi Arabia for the killing of activist Jamal Khashoggi; emergency funding for the deadly wildfires in California; a Republican-sponsored bill to extend expiring tax breaks and delay some health-care taxes; a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill;  a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller; a plan to overhaul the system for handling sexual harassment complaints on Capitol Hill. However, Trump’s long-promised border wall will be the biggest obstacle. The president wants the next funding package to include at least $5 billion for the wall with Mexico, a proposal Democrats have rejected.

GOOGLE CEO SET TO BE GRILLED: Embattled Google CEO Sundar Pichai, amid allegations of anti-conservative bias and privacy violations on the platform, plans to tell the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that his company is no haven for political bias “I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way,” Pichai will tell the committee, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. “To do otherwise would go against our core principles and our business interests. We are a company that provides platforms for diverse perspectives and opinions—and we have no shortage of them among our own employees.”

Pichai met privately with GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill in September to discuss allegations of anti-conservative bias and concerns about the firm’s re-entry into China and privacy issues. – Reported by Matt Richardson (@MRichardson713 on Twitter)and Christopher Carbone (@christocarbone on Twitter) 

MANAFORT HEARING: Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors and attorneys representing former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort will appear at a status hearing Tuesday in a step toward deciding whether Manafort violated his plea agreement with Mueller … Mueller’s team wrote in a heavily-redacted Friday court filing that Manafort violated his plea agreement by making false statements to federal investigators, including about his contact with Trump administration officials as well as information pertinent to an undisclosed Justice Department investigation.

BREXIT CHAOS: The status of Brexit appears to be unclear after British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday delayed a vote in Parliament to approve her controversial deal The move that presents an uncertain path ahead in Britain’s lengthy divorce from the European Union. European Union official Donald Tusk says the bloc won’t renegotiate the Brexit deal with the U.K. government as he called a summit Thursday to examine ways to help Britain ratify the deal. EU leaders were already scheduled to meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to discuss migration and the bloc’s future long-term budget, among other issues.

May’s Conservative government does not have a majority in the House of Commons, and opposition parties — as well as dozens of Conservative lawmakers — say they will not back the Brexit deal May and EU leaders agreed upon last month. The vote had been set for Tuesday. It is not clear when it will be rescheduled. Pro-Brexit lawmakers say the deal keeps Britain bound too closely to the EU, while pro-EU politicians say it erects barriers between the U.K. and its biggest trading partner and leaves many details of the future relationship undecided. – Reported by Greg Norman and the Associated Press

EXCLUSIVE: JARED KUSHNER SPEAKS OUT – In an exclusive, rare interview, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner told FOX News’ Sean Hannity that, despite increasingly critical media reports on the Trump administration and his role in it, the White House is humming along effectively as new officials prepare to take over top roles … Kushner insisted that day-to-day White House operations aren’t affected by what he called media “noise,” and pointed to the news that the U.S. this week became a net oil exporter for the first time in 75 years.

He also touted his work spearheading the president’s major criminal justice reform bill, which some Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have resisted. The proposed legislation, which Kushner said was “very close” to becoming law, would reduce mandatory prison terms for certain drug crimes and give judges in some cases more discretion on punishments. – Reported by Gregg Re (@gregg_re on Twitter)

TRAGIC END TO SEARCH AND RESCUE: The five missing crew members of warplanes that crashed off the coast of Japan last week have been declared dead and the search for them has ended The U.S. Marines made the announcement late Monday. One Marine was rescued last Wednesday, and the body of another was found. The planes — a F/A-18 jet and a refueling plane that had taken off from a base on Okinawa for a regularly scheduled training mission — crashed last week off Japan’s coast. – Reported by Edmund DeMarche (@EDeMarche on Twitter) and Lucas Tomlinson

THE SOUNDBITE

WHEN YOUR PAST HAUNTS YOU – “To take a kid who just won the peak trophy in college football and then search back to when he was 14 for something bad he said and then shame him over it? It’s just despicable stuff.” – Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire, on “The Story with Martha MacCallum, slamming a writer who reported on past homophobic tweets from Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray hours after he won college football’s top honor. Murray, now 21 years, apologized for the past tweets, saying they don’t reflect who he is or what he believes in. WATCH

TODAY’S MUST-READS 
FOX NEWS SPECIAL REPORT:
As doctors taper or end opioid prescriptions, many patients driven to despair, suicide – By Elizabeth Llorente (@Liz_Llorente on Twitter) 
Academy Awards considers going without host after Kevin Hart controversy: report.

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
Stock futures point to giving back some of Monday’s gains | Vicious cycle
Wall Street Journal: CBS directors fear legal risks from leaks in Moonves probe.
Hundreds of generic drugs at center of probe into ‘largest cartel’ in U.S. history.
Verizon buyouts: 10,400 employees accept severance offer.

STAY TUNED

On FOX News:

FOX & Friends, 6 a.m. ET: Kenneth Matlack, an Oregon sheriff, talks about the state governor’s budget to sue Trump and defend illegal immigrants; Tom Kersting, a family therapist, talks about the effects that TV time has on your children; Judge Andrew Napolitano, FOX News’ senior judicial analyst, on the Mueller investigation; Michael Anton, a former deputy national security adviser; Tom Shillue, a comedian and FOX News contributor, tests the hosts’ Christmas song knowledge. Rev. Franklin Graham, the president of Samaritan’s Purse.

The Story with Martha MacCallum, 7 p.m. ET: Robert Zimmerman, a longtime Democratic consultant.

Tucker Carlson Tonight, 8 p.m. ET: Guests include: Tammy Bruce, columnist and syndicated radio host, and Business Insider’s Daniella Greenbaum.

Hannity, 9 p.m. ET: Gregg Jarrett, FOX News legal analyst; Jesse Watters, co-host of “The Five”; and Jessica Tarlov, a FOX News contributor.

On FOX Business:

Mornings with Maria, 6 a.m. ET: Special guests include: U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Ben Phillips, EventShares chief information officer; U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich.; John Browne, former member of Britain’s Parliament.

Varney & Co., 9 a.m. ET: Special guests include: U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.; Harmeet Dhillon, board member of the National Republican Lawyers Association;  
Joel Shulman, ERShares CEO.

Cavuto: Coast to Coast, Noon ET: Ed Tilly, chairman and CEO of  Cboe Global Markets, Inc.; U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.

Countdown to the Closing Bell with Liz Claman, 3 p.m. ET: Terry Duffy, chairman and CEO of CME Group.

On FOX News Radio:

The FOX News Rundown podcast: On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case brought to the court by states seeking to stop Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood services and other private health organizations. Bill Mears, FOX News’ Supreme Court producer, breaks down the story. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and a representative from Planned Parenthood will also weigh in. Plus, Democrats officially take control of the House in 2019, ending one party rule of Congress for the first time in eight years. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., joins the podcast to explain what he expects and why he’s hopeful. Plus, commentary by author and former executive assistant to president Ronald Reagan, Peggy Grande.

Want the FOX News Rundown sent straight to your mobile device? Subscribe through Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher.

The Brian Kilmeade Show, 9 a.m. ET: The latest on the changes in the Trump administration and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation will be discussed with Marc Lotter, former special assistant to President Trump; Allen West, former Florida congressman; Jason Chaffetz, FOX News contributor and Chris Stirewalt, politics editor at FOX News.

#TheFlashback
 
2008: Former Nasdaq chairman Bernie Madoff is arrested, accused of running a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that destroyed thousands of people’s life savings and wrecked charities. (Madoff is serving a 150-year federal prison sentence.) Plus, the remains of missing Florida toddler Caylee Anthony are found six months after she disappeared. (Her mother, Casey Anthony, would be acquitted of murder in her daughter’s death.)

1991: A jury in West Palm Beach, Fla., acquits William Kennedy Smith of sexual assault and battery, rejecting the allegations of Patricia Bowman..

1980: The TV series “Magnum P.I.,” starring Tom Selleck, premieres on CBS.

FOX News First is compiled by FOX News’ Bryan Robinson. Thank you for joining us! Enjoy your day! We’ll see you in your inbox first thing Wednesday morning.



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May in the Netherlands as she fights to save Brexit deal


Top European Union officials on Tuesday ruled out any renegotiation of the divorce agreement with Britain as Prime Minister Theresa May launched her fight to save her Brexit deal by lobbying leaders in Europe’s capitals.

May began her quest over breakfast with Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte, a day after she abandoned a vote in the U.K. Parliament to secure support for the agreement thrashed out with the EU over more than a year, sensing that it would be rejected in London “by a significant margin.”

While May made no public comment as she met Rutte in The Hague, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that the Brexit agreement cannot be re-opened for negotiation at a summit of EU leaders on Thursday, but he did say that elements of the deal could still be clarified.

“There is no room whatsoever for renegotiation,” Juncker told EU lawmakers in Strasbourg, France, as he briefed them on the summit.

Juncker, who is set to meet May on Tuesday evening, underlined that “the deal we have achieved is the best deal possible. It is the only deal possible.”

But he added that “if used intelligently, (there) is room enough to give further clarification and further interpretations without opening the withdrawal agreement.”

EU leaders have often supplemented agreements with political declarations that clarify their interpretation of elements of an accord or provide assurances about how parts of any deal might work.

In Brussels, Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen also said that EU countries might be willing to clarify parts of the deal.

“It is always a political option to clarify if that is needed, what is meant, what kind of underlining is needed,” Samuelsen told reporters.

One of the main sticking points since the Brexit talks began has been how to keep goods flowing between Northern Ireland in the U.K. and EU member country Ireland, and May is sure to seek flexibility on this from her European partners.

But Juncker said that the so-called “backstop” — an insurance arrangement to ensure that no hard border appears after Brexit on March 29 — must remain, even though it was never meant to be used.

“We have a common determination to do everything to be not in the situation one day to use that backstop, but we have to prepare,” he said, and underlined that “Ireland will never be left alone.”

The European Parliament’s Brexit point man, Guy Verhofstadt, noted that with the canceled vote in London “we have spiraled again into a new mess,” and he supported Juncker’s message.

“Whatever the request may be we will never let down our Irish friends. It is out of the question to renegotiate the backstop,” Verhofstadt said.

If the Brexit agreement is accepted by the U.K. Parliament, it must still be endorsed by the European Parliament before March 29.

May also travels Tuesday to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and to Brussels for meetings with Juncker and EU Council President Donald Tusk, who will chair Thursday’s summit.

A senior German official said May won’t get any pledge of new negotiations while in Berlin. And he stressed that the chief negotiators were in Brussels, not the German capital.

Asked as he arrived at a meeting in Brussels what May can expect from Merkel, Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth replied: “I hope they will wish each other Merry Christmas, strength and all the best for the new year. It’s good to speak to each other, but there will certainly be no promises of any kind that we will reopen matters now and renegotiate.”

___

Cook reported from Brussels. Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.



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