President Trump, Shutdown, 52 Places: Your Wednesday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. President Trump abruptly walked out of a meeting on the government shutdown with Democratic leaders at the White House.

“Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time,” the president tweeted. “I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!”

Democrats said that the president had thrown a “temper tantrum.” Above, Senator Chuck Schumer after the meeting.

For now, at least, the president’s forceful response has papered over cracks in Republican support that threatened to upend his negotiating position. And as a last resort, Mr. Trump has said he could declare a national emergency to build a border wall.

2. Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing the special counsel’s Russia investigation, is expected to leave his post after President Trump’s pick to lead the Justice Department is confirmed.

Mr. Rosenstein has been a central figure in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and any ties to the Trump campaign — both for appointing Robert Mueller to lead it and for becoming a target of the president’s rage.

Mr. Trump nominated William Barr to be attorney general after he fired Jeff Sessions. Confirmation hearings are scheduled to begin on Jan. 15.

Separately, House Democrats now have the power to investigate Mr. Trump and his administration, but they’re moving in a slow, orderly manner. So don’t expect blockbuster findings anytime soon.


3. The British Parliament resumed debate on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan. It’s virtually certain to be rejected in a crucial vote next week — and that could mean weeks of perilous political brinkmanship.

In the past two days, Parliament has already delivered Mrs. May two setbacks. First, lawmakers passed an amendment requiring the prime minister to return within days of a losing vote with plans for proceeding. What kind of plan is unclear.

Parliament also passed a measure making it difficult for Britain to leave the European Union without a deal. The prospects of a second public referendum on Brexit are rising, and there is even talk of delaying the March 29 departure date.


4. A group of 49 migrants who had been stranded at sea after being refused entry to European ports was finally allowed to dock in Malta.

The asylum seekers, who had been living on a pair of rescue boats, will be settled among nine member states of the E.U. The migrants had previously been denied safe harbor by every national government bordering the Mediterranean Sea since their rescue in December.

Our reporter went aboard the rescue ships, where he discovered the human impact of Europe’s hard-line migration policy shift.


5. For decades, a Chinese government campaign has promoted exercise to combat alarming rates of childhood obesity.

But the initiative was notable for what it didn’t mention: the importance of cutting back on junk food and sugary beverages.

It turns out that China’s fitness-first message has largely been the handiwork of Coca-Cola and other Western food and beverage giants, according to two new studies.

The findings show how the food and beverage giants worked with key Chinese officials, through a nonprofit they financed, to stave off the growing movement for food regulation and soda taxes.


6. Larry Antonsen, above, decided to report a priest who sexually abused him during high school, and he ended up in a maze of church bureaucracy.

The priest he was accusing happened to be an Augustinian, one of dozens of religious orders in the Catholic clergy. And the Chicago archdiocese told him to take his complaint to the Augustinians.

Victims and advocacy groups say their accusations are often mishandled because they are caught between separate institutions within the church: The dioceses say it is not their responsibility to investigate, and religious orders fail to handle the claims.


7. When the Knicks arrive in London for a much anticipated exhibition game against the Washington Wizards next week, their center will be watching from his couch in New York.

That’s because Enes Kanter, who is from Turkey, fears Turkish spies might kill him if he goes.

Mr. Kanter is an outspoken critic of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and has a close relationship with a cleric the Turkish government has accused of masterminding a bloody coup in 2016. Still, his latest statements are an escalation.

Turkish officials have dismissed his comments as baseless. But Mr. Kanter said the fear was real — and personal: “I was scared. I’m not going to lie.”


8. Televisions that roll up like yoga mats. 5G chips that can download an entire movie in seconds. Autonomous vehicles powered by artificial intelligence.

Here’s a visual tour of CES, the world’s most important tech conference, with the hottest tech trends on display — and the abysmal stock market pushed firmly out of mind.

Indeed, the Las Vegas consumer electronics conference underscored what the tech industry is best at, our columnist writes: being optimistic about itself.

9. A demographic revolution is quietly rippling across America: More older women are working, and loving it.

Last week, Nancy Pelosi, 79, above, became the most powerful elected woman in U.S. history. Glenn Close, 71, won a best actress award at the Golden Globes. And when Susan Zirinsky, 66, takes over CBS News in March, she’ll be the first woman to hold the job (and the oldest person).

In fact, nearly 30 percent of women 65 to 69 are working, up from 15 percent in the late 1980s, according to a recent Harvard study. And 18 percent of women 70 to 74 work, up from 8 percent. And it’s not that they have to work — they want to.

10. Finally, we end today daydreaming about where to travel next.

The Times’s annual 52 Places to Go in 2019 includes Hampi in India, Eilat in Israel, above, and Japan’s Setouchi Islands. We also announced the lucky traveler who gets to see them all: Sebastian Modak, a veteran travel journalist who has lived all around the world.

Our No. 1 place to visit this year is Puerto Rico. Still recovering from Hurricane Maria, the island represents so many fragile spots around the globe. Here’s how we picked the other destinations.

Happy exploring.


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