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

December 11, 2018

Brexit deal in turmoil as May postpones Parliament vote

LONDON (AP) — Facing almost certain defeat, British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday postponed a vote in Parliament on her Brexit deal, saying she would go back to European Union leaders to seek changes to the divorce agreement.

May’s move threw Britain’s Brexit plans into disarray, intensified a domestic political crisis and battered the pound. With EU officials adamant the withdrawal deal was not up for renegotiation, the country does not know on what terms it will leave — and whether May will still be Britain’s leader when it does.

In an emergency statement to the House of Commons, May accepted that the divorce deal she struck last month with EU leaders was likely to be rejected “by a significant margin” if the vote were held Tuesday as planned.

May said she would defer the vote so she could seek “assurances” from the EU and bring the deal back to Parliament. She did not set a new date for the vote. The U.K.’s departure is supposed to take place on March 29.

Opposition lawmakers — and ones from May’s Conservative Party — were incredulous and angry. Some accused her of trampling on parliamentary democracy.

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Republicans beginning to worry about Trump re-election

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s intensifying legal troubles are unnerving some of his fellow Republicans. Despite his brash stance, they believe the turmoil has left him increasingly vulnerable as he gears up for what is sure to be a nasty fight for re-election.

Trump, ever confident of his ability to bend story lines to his will, mocks the investigations into his conduct as candidate and president as a “witch hunt” and insists he will survive the threats.

But a shift began to unfold over the weekend after prosecutors in New York for the first time linked Trump to a federal crime of illegal hush payments. That left some of his associates fearful that his customary bravado is unwarranted. For some Republicans, the implication that the president may have directed a campaign finance violation, which would be a felony, could foreshadow a true turning point in the Republican relationship with him when special counsel Robert Mueller releases his report on the Russia investigation.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a lot more that’s going to come out from the Southern District (of New York) and from, at some point, from the Mueller investigation as well,” Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the chamber’s incoming No. 2 Republican, said Monday. “What they’re implying there, obviously, is something I assume at some point the president will have an opportunity to respond to.”

Thune continued, “Campaign finance violations are something that ... they are serious matters, but obviously it depends a little bit on how it gets treated.”

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Why Democrats aren’t ready to impeach Trump just yet

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some Democrats who will take the House majority in January are willing to say that President Donald Trump may have committed impeachable offenses. But that doesn’t mean they will try to impeach him — at least not yet.

For several reasons, Democrats have been extremely cautious about the “I″ word. They know it could backfire politically, and many of them were in office during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment 20 years ago. New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and the panel’s likely incoming chairman, has called impeachment a “trauma.”

Nadler told CNN on Sunday that if it is proved that Trump directed his former lawyer to commit campaign finance violations, as was suggested by special counsel Robert Mueller in a new court filing, he believes it would be an impeachable offense. But Nadler added, “Whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question.”

It’s unclear whether the distinction between an impeachable offense and impeachment itself will satisfy those in the Democratic base who are eager to kick Trump out of office. But Democrats are walking that fine line, for now.

Five reasons Democrats aren’t ready to impeach Trump:

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Macron vows tax cuts, pay rise; will France’s anger subside?

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron tried to reassert control over a nation wracked by increasingly violent protests with offers of tax relief for struggling workers and pensioners — and an exceptional admission Monday that “I might have hurt people with my words.”

It may not be enough.

Even as Macron broke his silence on the protests in a brief televised address, yellow-vested demonstrators vowed to keep up the pressure on a man they see as arrogant, out-of-touch and “president of the rich.”

“We are at a historic moment for our country,” the French leader said from the presidential Elysee Palace. “We will not resume the normal course of our lives” after all that has happened.

Speaking with a soft voice and gentle tone, Macron pleaded for a return to calm after almost four weeks of protests that started in neglected provinces to oppose fuel tax increases and progressed to rioting in Paris and a plethora of broad demands.

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China ups pressure as tech exec’s hearing goes into Tuesday

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — A jailed Chinese technology executive will have to wait at least one more day to see if she will be released on bail in a case that has raised U.S.-China tensions and complicated efforts to resolve a trade dispute that has roiled financial markets and threatened global economic growth.

Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and daughter of its founder, was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport Dec. 1 — the same day that Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping of China agreed to a 90-day cease-fire in the trade dispute that threatens to disrupt global commerce.

The U.S. has accused Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. It also says Meng and Huawei misled banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran.

After a second daylong session, Justice William Ehrcke said the bail hearing would continue Tuesday.

In urging the court to reject Meng’s bail request, prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley noted the Huawei executive has vast resources and a strong incentive to flee as she is facing fraud charges in the United States that could put her in prison for 30 years.

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Record count reported for mysterious paralyzing illness

NEW YORK (AP) — This year has seen a record number of cases of a mysterious paralyzing illness in children, U.S. health officials said Monday.

It’s still not clear what’s causing the kids to lose the ability to move their face, neck, back, arms or legs. The symptoms tend to occur about a week after the children had a fever and respiratory illness.

No one has died from the rare disease this year, but it was blamed for one death last year and it may have caused others in the past.

What’s more, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say many children have lasting paralysis. And close to half the kids diagnosed with it this year were admitted to hospital intensive care units and hooked up to machines to help them breathe.

The condition has been likened to polio, a dreaded paralyzing illness that once struck tens of thousands of U.S. children a year. Those outbreaks ended after a polio vaccine became available in the 1950s. Investigators of the current outbreak have ruled out polio, finding no evidence of that virus in recent cases.

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No jail for Baylor student accused of fraternity party rape

WACO, Texas (AP) — A Texas judge on Monday accepted a plea deal allowing a former Baylor University student accused of raping a woman at a fraternity party to avoid serving jail time, marking at least the third time the judge has approved lenient punishment for men accused of sexually assault.

Judge Ralph Strother accepted the plea deal for Jacob Walter Anderson, who was indicted on sexual assault charges and pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of unlawful restraint. A no contest plea means a person does not admit guilt, but will offer no defense. Anderson was expelled from Baylor after a university investigation.

The woman who accused him of repeatedly raping her at a 2016 fraternity house party expressed outrage at the plea agreement and described the county’s justice system as “severely broken.” An online petition had been created to oppose the plea agreement and received thousands of signatures.

The woman has not been named and The Associated Press has a policy of not naming possible victims of sexual assault.

The deal from prosecutors allowed Anderson to receive deferred probation. The ex-Phi Delta Theta fraternity president agreed to seek counseling and pay a $400 fine. Anderson will not be forced to register as a sex offender.

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Slovak hospitals hold new Roma mothers against their will

KEZMAROK, Slovakia (AP) — Monika Krcova did not want to follow the official guidelines and remain in the hospital in Slovakia for four days after her third baby’s birth. And so she escaped.

Like many other Roma, she tells horror stories about giving birth in the hospital: How doctors at the Kezmarok hospital in eastern Slovakia slapped her face and legs repeatedly during the delivery of her first two children, screaming that she didn’t know how to push properly. How in the following days, she was subjected to racist taunts, and her postpartum pain was not treated.

Krcova knew that hospital staffers would stop her and her baby if she tried to leave after two days. So she waited until visiting hours, when the doors of the maternity ward were unlocked, and slipped away, alone.

Slovakia’s Ministry of Health strongly recommends four-day stays for mothers and babies, regardless of their health. But many hospitals — seeking insurance reimbursements — have turned that guidance into a mandate.

An investigation by The Associated Press has found that women and their newborns in Slovakia are routinely, unjustifiably and illegally detained in hospitals across the European Union country. Women from the country’s Roma minority, vulnerable to racist abuse and physical violence, suffer particularly. They’re also often poor, and mothers who leave hospitals before doctors grant permission forfeit their right to a significant government childbirth allowance of several hundred euros.

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‘We’re still in the war’: Chicagoans battle flow of firearms

CHICAGO (AP) — Ke’Shon Newman’s daily routine is guided by guns — the hundreds of illegal pistols, revolvers and other firearms that torment his South Side neighborhood.

He walks on brightly lit streets, the ones lined with Jamaican jerk and seafood joints, minimarkets, the White Castle, a Shell gas station. If shooting erupts, he wants witnesses — and, if necessary, help. He listens to music with one earbud, to hear approaching footsteps, and avoids clothing with hoods that might block his peripheral vision.

These are the rituals of a street-smart 16-year-old who knows the cruel meaning of wrong place, wrong time. His stepbrother, Randall Young, then 16, was killed in crossfire two years ago while walking his girlfriend to a bus stop. “Nine shots,” Newman says, words that need no embroidery. “I’m making sure my mom doesn’t have to lose another child.”

The Auburn Gresham neighborhood is flooded with illegal guns: .40-caliber pistols, .380 semi-automatics, .38-caliber revolvers. Police recover as many as they can, searching apartments, stopping cars, cornering people on the street. A buy-back in June brought in hundreds of firearms. And in September, the mayor and other dignitaries gathered to mark a milestone: Police in the 6th District had recovered their 1,000th gun this year.

It was a triumphant moment, but it also offered a glimpse into the overwhelming task faced by law enforcement — and the wounds inflicted on just one Chicago community — when guns are readily available and violence so common that, one study found, an estimated 1 in 2 young men had at some time carried firearms, almost always illegally. Most did so to stay safe.

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Police rip toddler from mother’s arms at benefits office

NEW YORK (AP) — Outrage built Monday over a video showing police officers violently yanking a toddler from his mother’s arms at a Brooklyn public benefits office, with officials criticizing police for not de-escalating the situation and clients of the facility complaining it is indicative of how the city treats social-services recipients.

The video, taken by a bystander, captured the chaotic scene that unfolded last Friday as officers tried to remove mother Jazmine Headley from the crowded office, where she had sat on the floor for two hours because of a lack of chairs. Police were called when she refused a security guard’s order to leave. The woman ended up lying face-up on the floor during a tug of war over her 18-month-old son.

“The baby was screaming for his life,” Nyashia Ferguson, who posted video on Facebook under the name Monae Sinclair, told The New York Times . “The lady was begging for them to get off of her. I was scared.”

Other clients shouted at the officers. At one point, an officer can be seen pulling her stun gun and pointing it at people in the angry crowd.

Headley was charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, endangering the welfare of a child and trespassing. As of Monday afternoon, she was still in jail because there was a warrant for her arrest in New Jersey, prosecutors said. Bail was not requested and prosecutors were reaching out to New Jersey officials to “expedite her release.”

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