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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EST

December 12, 2018

Trump threatens shutdown in wild encounter with Democrats

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a wild Oval Office confrontation, President Donald Trump heatedly threatened to shut down the U.S. government Tuesday as he and Democratic leaders bickered over funding for his promised border wall and offered a grim preview of life in Washington the next two years under divided government.

Trump and House and Senate Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer squabbled for more than 15 minutes in the stunning, televised encounter. Each of them, especially Trump, interrupted the others to question facts, quibble over election results and lob insults.

Trump questioned Pelosi’s ability to count votes in her own House. She questioned his manhood — after she left the building.

The public clash marked Trump’s first meeting with the newly empowered Democrats since their midterm victories that put them in control of the House, laying bare the tensions on both sides and suggesting how divided government might work — or not — as the 2020 presidential election nears.

Neither the public nor the private face-to-face portion of the meeting appeared to resolve the wall-funding dispute with a partial shutdown looming on Dec. 21. However, Pelosi said Trump called her later in the afternoon and told her the White House was looking at options she and Schumer had laid out.

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Pelosi lectures Trump, privately questions his ‘manhood’

WASHINGTON (AP) — In public, Nancy Pelosi lectured Donald Trump on the Constitution and wagged a finger at him for characterizing her “strength.” In private, she questioned his “manhood” — and her disdain for him became public, again, anyway.

“It’s like a manhood thing for him. As if manhood could ever be associated with him. This wall thing,” Pelosi privately told House Democrats after a combative, on-camera Oval Office meeting with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. The account was described on condition of anonymity by an aide who was in the room but not authorized to discuss Pelosi’s remarks publicly.

In the space of a few hours Tuesday, the California Democrat nominated for her second stint as House speaker rolled out her approach to the Republican president as the two prepare for two years of divided government.

“It goes to show you: You get into a tickle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you,” she said after Tuesday’s meeting, according to the aide.

Pelosi is said to frown on truly blue language. But in public and private, she can be unsparing in her clapbacks, and never more so than during the Trump presidency. She questioned Trump’s “manhood” publicly in October at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, for example. And yet, she’s long counseled Democrats to not get into the muck, Trump-style, advising Democrats before the State of the Union address in January not to get in the way of his “slobbering self.”

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Attack at Christmas market in French city kills 3, wounds 12

STRASBOURG, France (AP) — A man who had been flagged as a possible extremist sprayed gunfire near the city of Strasbourg’s famous Christmas market Tuesday, killing three people, wounding up to a dozen and sparking a massive manhunt. France immediately raised its terror alert level.

It was unclear if the market — a popular gathering place that was the nucleus of an al-Qaida-linked plot in 2000 — was the intended target. The assailant got inside a security zone around the venue and opened fire from there, Mayor Roland Ries said on BFM television.

Authorities did not give a motive for the shooting, though prosecutors said they had opened a terrorism investigation. Strasbourg, on France’s eastern border, is home to the European Parliament, one of several places that was locked down after the shooting.

Authorities said they had identified a suspect. The prefect of the Strasbourg region said the man was on a watch list of people who had potentially been radicalized.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, who traveled to Strasbourg, said the suspect, not named, had been convicted in both France and Germany for crimes unrelated to terrorism and served time. He did not elaborate.

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AP: Ivanka, Kushner could profit from tax break they pushed

WASHINGTON (AP) — At an Oval Office gathering earlier this year, President Donald Trump began touting his administration’s new real estate investment program, which offers massive tax breaks to developers who invest in downtrodden American communities. He then turned to one of the plan’s strongest supporters.

“Ivanka, would you like to say something?” Trump asked his daughter. “You’ve been pushing this very hard.”

The Opportunity Zone program promoted by Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner — both senior White House advisers — could also benefit them financially, an Associated Press investigation found.

Government watchdogs say the case underscores the ethical minefield they created two years ago when they became two of the closest advisers to the president without divesting from their extensive real estate investments.

Trump and Kushner jointly own a big stake in a real estate investment firm, Cadre, that recently announced it is launching a series of Opportunity Zone funds that seek to build major projects under the program from Miami to Los Angeles. Separately, the couple owns interests in at least 13 properties held by Kushner’s family firm that could qualify for the tax breaks because they are in Opportunity Zones in New Jersey, New York and Maryland — all of which, a study found, were already coming back.

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A look at where the investigations related to Trump stand

A look at where the investigations related to President Donald Trump stand and what may lie ahead for him.

WHAT’S THIS ALL ABOUT?

Trump is facing criminal investigations in Washington and New York.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia and whether the president obstructed the investigation. Trump also plays a central role in a separate case in New York, where prosecutors have implicated him in a crime. They say Trump directed his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to make illegal hush money payments to two women as a way to quash potential sex scandals during the campaign.

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4 journalists and a newspaper are Time’s Person of the Year

NEW YORK (AP) — Time magazine on Tuesday recognized journalists, including the slain Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, as its 2018 Person of the Year in what it said was an effort to emphasize the importance of reporters’ work in an increasingly hostile world.

The designation wasn’t intended as a specific message to the magazine’s runner-up choice, President Donald Trump, who has denounced “fake news” and called some reporters enemies of the people, said Ben Goldberger, executive editor.

Time cited four figures it called “the guardians.” Besides Khashoggi, they are the staff of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, where five people were shot to death in June; Philippine journalist Maria Ressa; and Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who have been jailed in Myanmar for a year.

It’s the first time since the magazine began the end-of-year tradition in 1927 that Time has featured a journalist or recognized someone posthumously.

Time said that 2018 has been marked by manipulation and abuse of information, along with efforts by governments to foment mistrust of the facts.

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Huawei CFO gets bail; China detains ex-Canadian diplomat

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — A Canadian court granted bail on Tuesday to a top Chinese executive arrested at the United States’ request in a case that has set off a diplomatic furor among the three countries and complicated high-stakes U.S.-China trade talks.

Hours before the bail hearing in Vancouver, China detained a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing in apparent retaliation for the Dec. 1 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and daughter of the company’s founder.

After three days of hearings, a British Columbia justice granted bail of $10 million Canadian (US$7.5 million) to Meng, but required her to wear an ankle bracelet, surrender her passports, stay in Vancouver and its suburbs and confine herself to one of her two Vancouver homes from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The decision was met with applause in the packed courtroom, where members of Vancouver’s Chinese community had turned out to show support for Meng.

Amid rising tension between China and Canada, Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale confirmed Tuesday that a former Canadian diplomat had been detained in Beijing. The detention came after China warned Canada of consequences for Meng’s arrest.

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Flynn argues against prison time in Russia investigation

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawyers for Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn asked a judge Tuesday to spare him prison time, saying he had devoted his career to his country and taken responsibility for an “uncharacteristic error in judgment.”

The arguments to the judge echoed those of special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, which last week said that Flynn’s cooperation — including 19 meetings with investigators — was so extensive that he was entitled to avoid prison when he is sentenced next week.

“Having made a serious error in judgment, for which he has shown true contrition, he recognized it was consistent with the values by which he has led his life simply to provide the facts to those charged with enforcing our laws,” his lawyers wrote in requesting a sentence of probation and community service. “On the day he entered his guilty plea, he said he was ‘working to set things right.’ He has done so.”

Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations during the presidential transition period with the then-Russian ambassador to the United States, will become the first White House official punished in the special counsel’s ongoing probe into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. His sentencing has the makings of a bookend moment for the investigation given that Flynn — a visible presence on the campaign trail, in high-level transition talks and in the chaotic early days of the administration — was an early, and pivotal, part of the case.

His December 2016 phone calls discussing Obama administration sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak triggered intelligence community alarms and led weeks later to his ouster from the White House after administration officials maintained that he had lied to them about the communications.

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Activists decry no-jail sentence for former frat president

HOUSTON (AP) — In a case with echoes of the furor involving a Stanford University swimmer two years ago, advocates for sex-crime victims say the plea bargain that enabled a former Baylor University fraternity president to stay out of jail is another failure by the legal system.

“What’s similar is that violence against women is not taken seriously by the legal system,” said Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor who led the successful campaign to recall the judge in the swimmer’s case. “The handling of sexual assault in the criminal justice system has been inappropriate, and sort of shockingly so, for a really long time.”

In the Texas case, Jacob Walter Anderson, 23, had been charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old fellow Baylor student outside a 2016 fraternity party. The woman told police she was given punch and became disoriented. She said Anderson led her behind a tent and raped her while choking her.

Prosecutors offered him a deal in which he pleaded no contest in October to unlawful restraint. State District Judge Ralph Strother sentenced him under the terms of the deal Monday to probation, counseling and a $400 fine. He will not have to register as a sex offender.

The woman’s lawyer, Vic Feazell, said she and her family found out about the plea bargain from reading the newspaper.

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Yellow, green, saffron: Colors of protests around the world

When you’re an activist looking for a way to convey a complex message in a complicated world, you need a hook — something that can command attention across cultures in a memorable and visually arresting way.

So what’s more elemental than associating yourself with a specific color? Just as this month’s demonstrations in France are built around the “yellow vests” that all French drivers must carry in their cars, so, too, have previous movements aligned themselves with specific hues to punch through the static and make a topical statement.

What kind of political movements have built their messages around color in the past?

Here’s a brief review of a few.

YELLOW VEST PROTESTS, FRANCE 2018

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