Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 11, 2018

The Supreme Court hands a key victory to Planned Parenthood, Theresa May seeks EU concessions after postponing Brexit vote, and more


Supreme Court upholds Planned Parenthood win in funding case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge by states seeking to block funding for Planned Parenthood, leaving in place lower court wins for the health-care provider. The case didn't concern abortion services provided by the group, but the divisive issue loomed over the case. Several states ended Medicaid provider agreements with Planned Parenthood for other services after an anti-abortion group released edited and widely discredited videos that purported to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing selling fetal tissue. Medicaid patients in Kansas and Louisiana, two states that cut out Planned Parenthood, sued, accusing the states of violating Medicaid's requirement that patients must be free to seek care from any qualified provider.


Theresa May seeks concessions from EU leaders after postponing Brexit vote

British Prime Minister Theresa May is meeting with European leaders on Tuesday in a bid to salvage her deal on Britain's exit from the European Union. May on Monday postponed a crucial parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal with the EU, saying it faced rejection. May is expected to seek concessions from European leaders, including on the question of how to keep goods flowing across the border of Northern Ireland in the U.K. and EU-member Ireland. British lawmakers want flexibility on that issue, a key sticking point. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that there was "no room whatsoever for renegotiation." The apparent impasse left no clear path forward for May's government ahead of the U.K.'s scheduled March exit from the European trading bloc.


Accused Russian spy Maria Butina reportedly reaches plea deal

Federal prosecutors have struck a plea deal with Maria Butina, a Russian woman who used her status as a gun rights advocate to make connections and try to influence American conservatives, according to court papers filed Monday. Butina, who has been detained since July, reportedly has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and plead guilty to one charge of conspiracy to act as a Russian agent in the U.S. without registering with the Justice Department. She could face a maximum of five years in prison, but could serve far less time under the deal. She was arrested in connection with a counterintelligence investigation that is separate from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion by Trump campaign associates.


32 arrested in San Diego protest backing migrant caravan

Federal agents arrested 32 religious leaders and activists at the U.S. border fence in San Diego on Monday during a protest in support of a caravan of Central American migrants trying to enter the U.S. through Mexico. More than 400 people participated in the demonstration, including leaders of churches, mosques, synagogues, and indigenous communities. On the other side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico, thousands of migrants, many living in crowded shelters and camps, have held their own protests seeking a chance to apply for asylum in the U.S. On Nov. 25, U.S. Border Patrol agents fired tear gas at migrants after some rushed a line of police and others threw stones.


Trump reportedly concerned about 'real possibility' of impeachment

President Trump has expressed concern that there is a "real possibility" he will be impeached when Democrats take over the House in January, CNN reported Monday, citing a source close to Trump. Another source told CNN that White House aides believe that campaign finance violations related to former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's payments to alleged Trump mistresses could be "the only issue that may stick." The incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), said Sunday that if it is proven that Trump directed the payments as Cohen said, they would constitute "impeachable offenses." Another source said that Trump still is confident that if the House does impeach him, the Senate, still controlled by Republicans, will not convict him.


Macron calls for wage hike and bonuses in bid to end protests

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday urged employers to give workers end-of-year bonuses, repeated a pledge to raise the minimum wage, and promised to reduce taxes in a bid to end weeks of demonstrations by yellow-vested protesters. Macron also vowed to use "all means" to restore order, acknowledging widespread "indignation" at dwindling purchasing power. He said the public's anger was "in many ways legitimate" but said that "no anger justifies" looting stores or attacking police. "When violence is unleashed freedom stops," the embattled French president said in a televised address.


FBI arrests two in separate Toledo terror plots

The FBI announced Monday that it had arrested two people for separate alleged terrorist plots near Toledo, Ohio. In one case, the FBI said that the suspect, Elizabeth Lecron, was arrested Saturday after buying black powder and screws for making a bomb. She reportedly had said she wanted to commit an "upscale mass murder," and planned to target a Toledo bar. According to court documents, Lecron had exchanged letters with imprisoned white supremacist Dylann Roof, who killed nine African Americans at a Charleston, South Carolina, church in 2015. In the second case, the FBI said 21-year-old Damon Joseph, who investigators believe was radicalized online by the Islamic State, allegedly planned attacks on two Toledo area synagogues.


Trump to end decades-old protections for wetlands, streams

The Trump administration on Tuesday is expected to formally start the process of lifting federal Clean Water Act protections for millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams across the U.S. The proposed rules, to be unveiled by the Environmental Protection Agency, would undo decades of protections against pollution from pesticide runoff, industrial waste, and other pollutants. The change would mark a victory for agricultural, oil and gas, and real estate interests but could degrade the drinking water used by tens of millions of Americans and endanger the habitats of migratory birds and other species. President Trump made a campaign promise to roll back Obama-era rules, but the new proposals would roll back protections dating back to the George H.W. Bush administration.


Alphabet discloses another privacy bug and speeds up shutdown of Google+

Google-parent Alphabet said Monday that it would shut down Google+ in April, four months earlier than previously planned. Alphabet made the decision to speed things up after finding a software flaw that had could have allowed partner apps to access 52.5 million users' private data. In October, the company revealed that another bug might have exposed the data of 500,000 users to partner apps. Alphabet said then that it would scrap the consumer version of Google+ in August 2019, citing difficulties maintaining the unpopular service. The latest disclosure came a day before CEO Sundar Pichai was scheduled to testify to the House Judiciary Committee about Google's data collection practices.


U.N. migrant accord approved over U.S. opposition

More than 160 countries on Monday adopted an international migration accord despite fierce opposition from the U.S. and a few other nations. Nearly 85 percent of the countries in the United Nations backed the non-binding accord calling for safe, orderly, and humane migration. The first Global Compact for Migration marked a test for a U.N.-led effort to crack down on dangerous travel across borders, and human smuggling. "Unregulated migration bears a terrible human cost," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, noting that more than 60,000 migrants have died trying to reach wealthier countries. Opposition to the accord focused partly on fears that it would force countries to open their borders and give migrants welfare benefits.


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