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10 things you need to know today: December 12, 2018

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Harold Maass
Trump, Pelosi, and Schumer in the Oval Office
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1.

Trump says he'd be proud to shut down government over wall

President Trump clashed with Congress' top two Democrats Tuesday over funding for his promised border wall in a meeting in the Oval Office. The discussion between Trump, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was billed as a bid to make progress toward avoiding a looming government shutdown scheduled to hit just before Christmas, but the explosive meeting ended with Trump saying he would be "proud to shut down the government for border security." The discussion appeared to grow confrontational after Pelosi, in a show of Democrats' newfound strength as they prepare to take control of the House in January, said the two sides should work together to prevent a "Trump shutdown." The exchange spiraled downward from there, with Trump taking offense and reacting with what Schumer described as a "temper tantrum." [The Washington Post]

2.

Gunman kills 3 at Christmas market in France

A lone gunman opened fire in a Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg on Tuesday, killing at least three people and wounding up to 12 others, police said. The attacker fled after the shooting and was the subject of a massive manhunt. The country is still on high alert after a series of attacks blamed on or inspired by the Islamic State since 2015. France's interior minister, Christophe Castaner, said the suspect had been flagged as a possibly dangerous extremist. The shooting put the European Parliament, which is meeting in the city this week, on lockdown. Hours earlier, French police had gone to the suspect's house to arrest him, but he wasn't there. Officers found explosive materials in the home, according to police union FGP. [Reuters, The Associated Press]

3.

May faces no-confidence vote over Brexit chaos

British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a no-confidence vote on Wednesday over the growing chaos surrounding her proposed deal for the U.K.'s departure from the European Union. If 158 of her party's 315 lawmakers don't support her, May will be removed from power. If she wins, her position will be safe for a year, getting her past the looming EU exit date in March. May canceled a vote in Parliament that was expected to result in the rejection of her Brexit deal with the EU, and she is lobbying European leaders for concessions sought by lawmakers. May, vowing to fight, postponed a trip to Ireland so she could try to convince colleagues she is the best person to steer the country out of the EU. [NBC News]

4.

Jury recommends sentencing avowed neo-Nazi to life plus 419 years

A jury on Tuesday said that James Fields Jr., the avowed neo-Nazi who plowed his car into counterprotesters at last year's white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, should be sentenced to life plus 419 years in prison. The jury also recommended $480,000 in fines. Fields killed anti-racism demonstrator Heather Heyer and seriously injured 35 others. Judge Richard Moore will announce whether he is accepting the recommended sentence at a March 29 hearing. The jury convicted Fields on Friday, and made its sentencing decision after hearing emotional testimony from Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, and several survivors who were hit by Fields during the Unite the Right rally. Fields didn't deny hitting the crowd with his Dodge Challenger but said he acted in self-defense. [NPR, The Washington Post]

5.

North Carolina Republicans back possible new election for congressional seat

The North Carolina Republican Party said Tuesday that if new allegations of election irregularities are proven, a new vote should be held in the state's 9th Congressional District. The state Democratic Party released an affidavit from a poll worker who said early voting results were improperly leaked before the election. Election officials had already refused to certify Republican Mark Harris' narrow win over Democrat Dan McCready due to allegations of election fraud against a contractor for a Harris campaign consultant. Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the state Republican Party, said it appeared early votes had been leaked but there was no evidence that Harris participated or condoned it. North Carolina Democratic Party chair Wayne Goodwin said Harris should say "what he knew and when he knew it." [Politico]

6.

Survey says Americans get more news from social media than newspapers

A Pew Research Center survey published Monday found that adults in the U.S. received more news from social media than newspapers in 2018. This is the first time news consumption via social media surpassed print newspapers since Pew started asking these questions. However, social media and newspapers are still the least common means of discovering the news. Television continues to be the most popular medium for news consumption, with 49 percent of adults looking for their headlines on TV, followed by websites with 33 percent, and radio with 26 percent. Those between ages 18 and 29 are about four times as likely to receive their news from social media than people 65 years and older. [Pew Research]

7.

Gunman kills 4 in Brazilian cathedral

A man shot and killed four people in a Brazilian cathedral after Mass on Tuesday. Four other people were wounded. The attacker was shot in the ribs in a firefight, then fatally shot himself in the head, authorities said. Authorities identified the alleged attacker as Euler Fernando Grandolpho, a 49-year-old systems analyst who was not a member of the church. Investigators could not immediately identify a motive for the shooting, which occurred at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Campinas, about 60 miles north of Sao Paulo. [The Associated Press]

8.

China to slash tariffs on U.S. cars; Trump touts progress on trade

China has agreed to slash tariffs on U.S. autos to 15 percent from the current 40 percent, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. The agreement came during a phone call between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that has been characterized as the start of new trade talks aiming to ease tensions between the world's two biggest economies. It was not immediately clear when China would put the change into effect. Beijing raised its tariffs on auto imports from the U.S. as part of the back-and-forth tariff battle between the two countries earlier this year. U.S. stock futures jumped early Wednesday after President Trump said the U.S. and China were having "very productive" talks on easing trade tensions. [The Wall Street Journal, CNBC]

9.

Google chief grilled by congressional panel on privacy, misinformation

Google CEO Sundar Pichai was grilled Tuesday by members of the House Judiciary Committee who expressed concern over the company's handling of user privacy and politically sensitive content. Republicans questioned Pichai about what they see as unfair treatment against conservatives, as well as Google's market power and plan to relaunch its search service in China. Democrats, led by their ranking committee member Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), said Congress should be more focused on how Google has handled the spread of misinformation online, and Russia's efforts to influence U.S. elections. [The Associated Press, The New York Times]

10.

Judge orders Stormy Daniels to pay Trump attorney fees

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered porn star Stormy Daniels to pay $292,000 in President Trump's legal fees incurred in her now-dismissed defamation suit against the president. The judge also imposed $1,000 in sanctions against her. Daniels filed the suit after Trump said Daniels was lying by claiming that a man had told her in a Las Vegas parking lot to keep quiet about her claim that she had a sexual tryst with Trump. Trump lawyer Charles Harder said the judge's decision amounted to a "total victory" for Trump. Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said his client should "never have to pay a dime because they owe her over $1 million in attorney's fees and costs" associated with her still-pending suit over her non-disclosure agreement with Trump. [CNBC]