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March 20, 2019

Theresa May officially wants to put the breaks on Brexit.

The U.K. prime minister's plans for Britain's exit from the EU have continued to falter, prompting votes that question confidence in her leadership and even calls for her to resign. And in a sure sign that May still hasn't figured things out, she asked European Council President Donald Tusk on Wednesday for a three-month extension on Britain's stay in the EU.

May is set to meet with EU leaders on Thursday and, with a previously set Brexit deadline of March 29 less than two weeks away, is expected to ask for an extension, Politico reports. May told MPs Tuesday that she wouldn't delay Brexit any further than her June 30 request, per BBC. Still, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker responded by "formally warn[ing] May that if an extension is granted beyond May 23's European Parliament elections, there would be "institutional difficulties and legal uncertainty," CNN notes.

Britain voted to leave the EU more than two years ago, but has struggled to come up with a deal that would preserve trade relations with the bloc. Parliament has continually shot down May's proposed deals to exit, but also ruled out a no-deal Brexit with a non-binding vote last week. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:56 p.m.

Facebook reportedly dodged a Federal Trade Commission fine several times larger than the one it's ultimately expected to receive.

Regulators, according to a Monday report in The Washington Post, "stopped short of some even tougher punishments it initially had in mind" for Facebook as part of the FTC investigation into the company's data practices, including a potential fine of "tens of billions of dollars." But Facebook thought it should have to pay less than $1 billion and "felt it could easily prevail in court" over the FTC, the report says.

Ultimately, the FTC reportedly settled with a $5 billion fine. The settlement is expected to be officially finalized and announced in the coming days, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The FTC also considered punishments as part of its settlement that would have held CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally liable for the company's privacy scandals, the Post reports, with this, too, being scrapped as Facebook resisted. The Post cites some sources as now expressing "concern that Facebook may not have had to admit guilt" in the settlement.

Criticism had already emerged last week after reports about the Facebook settlement, with a bipartisan group of senators blasting it as "egregiously inadequate," Engadget reports, also warning that it is "sending the wrong message to tech companies." Read the full report at The Washington Post. Brendan Morrow

3:17 p.m.

Who do you think should win the pity contest?

During a meeting at the White House with President Trump on Monday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan tried to brush off the idea that his government was cracking down on press freedom, despite journalists staging nationwide protests last week and the removal of three television stations from the airwaves after they showed a live speech by opposition leader Maryam Nawaz.

Khan said that, on the contrary, Pakistan has one of the freest presses in the world; his reason being that he faces "unprecedented" criticism from the press. An incredulous Trump said "there's no way" Khan was "treated worse" than he is.

Trump's comments didn't set off any drama between the two heads of state, though. Instead, it drew a chuckle from Khan.

The exchange wasn't the only shot Trump took at the U.S. media, though. He also made sure to let the Pakistani press know he was much fonder of them than he was of American reporters. Tim O'Donnell

3:01 p.m.

Hundreds of thousands took to the streets across Puerto Rico to protest Governor Ricardo Rosselló's decision not to resign his post, despite announcing that he would not seek re-election and would step down as the leader of his party.

There are estimates that the already-massive protests could reach up to 1 million participants, which is a little less than one-third of the territory's total population. For some perspective on the sheer size of the demonstrations — which have shut down a major highway and caused vacation cruises to cancel port stops — check out the crowds from above.

The marchers have been calling for Rosselló's resignation for days, after a private chat with some of his aides was leaked, revealing profanity-laced homophobic and misogynistic messages. Several of Rosselló's former administration officials are also currently embroiled in a corruption scandal, which has not helped his standing.

The protests have received support from baseball players, singers, and presidential candidates, but not everyone is satisfied with the amount of traction the demonstrations have gained beyond Puerto Rico's shores. Tim O'Donnell

2:21 p.m.

President Trump on Monday suggested he could win the war in Afghanistan in a "week" but that doing so would involve killing millions of people.

"If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I would win that war in a week," Trump said. "I just don't want to kill 10 million people."

Trump went on to again say that "if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth" and that "it would be over literally in 10 days," but "I don't want to go that route."

These comments came as Trump sat in the Oval Office with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and he said that the United States is working with Pakistan and other countries to "extricate ourselves" from Afghanistan because "we've been there for 19 years" and "we don't want to stay as policemen." Trump also teased some unspecified "very good answers" on Afghanistan in the future. Brendan Morrow

2:01 p.m.

A new Trump administration rule will make thousands more immigrants subject to immediate deportation every year.

The Department of Homeland Security has issued an expansion of "expedited removal" proceedings to immigrants anywhere in the U.S., it announced in a Monday notice. That means immigrants who've arrived in the U.S. within the past two years can be deported without a court hearing, expanding a policy that currently only covers areas within 100 miles of the border and migrants who've been here for less than two weeks.

As it stands, America's immigration court system is facing case backlogs that have some migrants waiting years for hearings. This rule change would help mitigate those numbers, but advocates argue it would also strip migrants of their due process rights. An estimate in the notice suggests it could put an additional 20,000 people into expedited proceedings each year. It could even force migrants who've been in the U.S. longer onto the expedited path, seeing as it's up to them to prove to authorities how long they've been in the U.S.

The American Civil Liberties Union quickly tweeted to say it would be suing to challenge this new rule.

The rule change is set to be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday. Find the notice in its entirety here. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:50 p.m.

R. Kelly's crisis manager, Darrell Johnson, argued for the R&B singer's innocence on Monday while also admitting that he would not allow his own daughter to be alone with him.

Johnson appeared on CBS This Morning on Monday after Kelly earlier this month was arrested on federal sex crimes charges, including child porn and enticement of a minor. CBS' Gayle King in the interview asked Johnson whether he would leave his 20-year-old daughter alone with Kelly, who has denied the allegations.

"Absolutely not," Johnson quickly answered before King had even finished the question. "I wouldn't leave my daughter with anybody that's accused of pedophilia. Period."

King expressed surprise that Johnson was defending Kelly despite not even being okay with allowing his daughter to be around him, to which Johnson insisted that this is "absolutely" not a contradiction, reiterating that he would not leave her with "anyone ... that's accused of being a pedophile," which Kelly is.

This comment was in spite of the fact that minutes earlier, Johnson had defended Kelly by saying he is a "normal person" and that he personally hasn't "seen anything that has caused me to be suspicious." Kelly, who was also indicted earlier this year on sexual abuse charges, is currently in jail and will appear in court on August 2. Brendan Morrow

1:22 p.m.

So far in 2019, California's climate change-induced wildfires have burned far fewer acres than they did in the same period last year, but the state's officials are still on edge. The constant threat of flames has continued to drive up expenses, as well, reports The New York Times.

For example, Pacific Gas & Electric is requesting that regulators approve an additional charge to customers of $2 billion over the next three years to help pay for wildfire safety improvements. Customers will also be paying more than $10 billion in taxes on electricity bills, the Times writes, and some counties are spending hundreds of thousands to install generators in government buildings. But the rising costs are increasingly accepted as a necessary evil.

"It's a lot of money for us, but I really feel we don't have a choice," Dennis Darling, who owns a supermarket in the town of Clearlake, told the Times.

Darling, who is paying $100,000 to install a generator in the supermarket he owns, is among the residents taking matters into their own hands should the power grids continue to fail amid wildfires. There's reportedly been a spike in interest in energy storage systems throughout the state. "We're seeing more and more of that over the last three or four years now, because of the threat of wildfires, the threat of an earthquake," said Rainier de Ocampo, vice president for marketing at Solar Optimum, a solar power and storage contractor.

Resident Susanne Polos said she recalls her power going out 10 times in the last year, prompting her family to invest in an energy storage system; they have an electric car, which they can't afford to not have charged in case of a fire emergency.

All told, the prospect of fires remains on the minds of everyone in the state despite the assurance from Pacific Gas & Electric's chief executive officer Bill Johnson that "we are safer than we were yesterday." Johnson himself acknowledged "this risk exists and can't be eliminated." Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

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