In a bid to break the 10-day U.S. federal shutdown, House Democrats said yesterday they’ll offer two new spending bills this week — neither of which will earmark any cash for President Donald Trump’s border wall. That means they’re unlikely to receive backing from a Republican-controlled Senate, whose leaders have already said they’ll only consider proposals supported by Trump. But by funding other sectors of government while keeping homeland security separate, Democrats are effectively boxing in the president, who’s insisted he won’t ease his demands, along with his Republican allies.
The Presidential Daily Brief
In a closely watched address today, the North Korean leader said he’s willing to pursue denuclearization — but only if the U.S. eases sanctions and other pressure on his country. While he hinted at ending the production of nuclear weapons, Kim also pledged Pyongyang would “explore a new path” if Washington “seeks to force something upon us.” Kim’s New Year’s speech is thought to portend North Korean policy in the year ahead: Last year’s, for instance, opened a new era of international diplomacy for the Hermit Kingdom.
Investors are bracing for further volatility after the final trading day of 2018 did little to ease months of market turmoil. Although the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq made gains yesterday, all three were down for the year by 6.2 percent, 5.6 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively. While some drew hope from ongoing talks between Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping of China, aimed at defusing the trade war between Beijing and Washington, lingering uncertainty over the global economy will likely keep investors nervous into 2019.
Often compared to President Trump for his fiery, right-wing populism, 63-year-old Jair Bolsonaro is set to be inaugurated today as Brazil’s fifth elected president since the restoration of democracy in 1985. Campaigning on an anti-corruption and pro-gun agenda, the ex-military officer and longtime lawmaker scored an easy victory in October’s election. But he’s drawn fire for his plans to roll back environmental protections, as well for what critics — who fear a Bolsonaro presidency could threaten human rights — claim are his homophobic, racist and sexist tendencies.
Know This: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced Monday that she’s forming a committee to explore a bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Russia’s Federal Security Service says it has arrested an American citizen on espionage charges. And the driver of a van that injured nine pedestrians in a Tokyo shopping district yesterday faces murder charges.
#OZYFact: In the past year, 74 percent of Facebook users have either adjusted their privacy settings, stopped checking their account for weeks or deleted the app entirely.
What’s going on in the War Room? U.S. Strategic Command, which controls America’s nuclear arsenal, last night tweeted that “if ever needed, we are #ready to drop something much, much bigger” than the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball. The message provided a video of the ball drop juxtaposed with U.S. stealth bombers dropping exploding ordinance, with “READY” and “LETHAL” flashing onscreen. After a social media uproar, @US_Stratcom deleted the joke and apologized, saying the tweet was in “poor taste & does not reflect our values.”
Faced with increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, Taiwanese growers can no longer rely on their traditional farming calendar. Luckily, a pilot project by Taipei-based startup OwlTing is equipping farms with sensors that monitor everything from rainfall to chemicals in the soil. The information collected can give consumers an insight into how and where their rice and other agricultural products are grown, create a database for farmers to use when deciding what to plant, and even be sold to insurers to develop a market for relief beyond government support.
An epidemic of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is gripping the Palestinian territories, according to an investigative journalism project, leaving doctors fearful that it will spread to neighboring countries through aquifers — even without a human host. Medical experts fear that the problem is exacerbated by inadequate medical facilities in Gaza, where about 2,000 people were reportedly shot in the leg during May’s border protests against Israel, and nearly all patients have become infected. The medical charity Doctors Without Borders is attempting to establish a service with Gaza’s health ministry to develop targeted antibiotics.
The disgraced comedian has come under fire for making jokes about the survivors of last February’s deadly Parkland, Florida, school shooting during a Long Island gig last month. Referring to their anti-gun advocacy after the massacre, in which 17 people were killed, C.K. asked, “Why does that make you interesting? You didn’t get shot.” One Parkland victim’s father said the “pathetic, disgusting, vile and gross” 51-year-old comic was “abusing families like mine” as he’d abused women in his admitted sexual misconduct. The club owner, meanwhile, called C.K. “a genius.”
In case you blinked: In 140 seconds yesterday, the champion boxer bested 20-year-old Tenshin Nasukawa during an exhibition fight in Tokyo. The 41-year-old knocked his Japanese challenger, who also entered the ring undefeated, to the ground three times in the truncated first round. Mayweather, who claimed he didn’t need to train for the event, reportedly made $9 million for the fleeting duel. After the match, in which no kicking was allowed, the champ said: “I’m still retired. I’m still 50-0.”