December 21, 2018 / 5:09 PM / 6 months ago

Friday Morning Briefing

Trump threatens ‘very long’ government shutdown, Nissan Motor’s ousted chairman Carlos Ghosn re-arrested on fresh allegations and London’s Gatwick airport reopens after mystery drone saboteur sows chaos. Catch up on the latest headlines.

President Donald Trump arrives for a signing ceremony for H.R. 2, the "Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018" in Washington, U.S., December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Young

United States

President Donald Trump threatened a “very long” government shutdown just hours ahead of a midnight deadline, calling on the Senate to pass spending legislation that includes his $5 billion demand for border wall funding and seeking to shift blame for a holiday showdown to Democrats.

The Republican-led Senate had already approved funds for the government through Feb. 8 without money for the wall. Trump’s presidency has lurched from crisis to crisis since he took office less than two years ago, but Thursday was a landmark day of chaos that appeared to test the resolve of even senior Republican backers in Washington.

The abrupt resignation of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sparked concern among Asia-Pacific allies who credit the retired general with building trust and tempering isolationist impulses, regional officials and analysts said.

Special Report: Over the past two decades, the Pentagon has transferred ownership of more than 200,000 military homes to private landlords. It also contributed $3.4 billion to the renovation of 52,000 old homes and the construction of 80,000 new ones nationwide. Among the new housing stock, Reuters found homes on U.S. military bases in Oklahoma and Mississippi marred by a slew of problems such as mold in air vents, water leaks, rodents and cockroaches.

World

A former Canadian diplomat detained in China is being denied legal representation and is not allowed to turn the lights off at night, people familiar with the situation said, offering new details on the closely watched case.

‘Places like ours, shops that are right in the middle, we just can’t seem to survive,’ says the chef of Eiraku, the last surviving sushi bar in its neighborhood of Tokyo. The number of independent, family-owned sushi bars in Tokyo has halved to 750 in the last decade, a trade association says. Driven out of business by fast-food joints and a younger generation that doesn’t want to inherit them.

A video purportedly showing the killings of two Scandinavian tourists in Morocco by suspected Islamist State militants is probably authentic, Norwegian police said. “When it comes to the assessment of the video that purportedly shows the killings, there is still a certain amount of technical analysis and assessment to be done,” Norway’s National Crime Investigation Service said in a statement.

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Commentary

Much is at stake in Congo’s long-delayed election, now postponed until Dec. 30. Yet Washington pays so little attention to this vast, mineral-rich country that National Security Adviser John Bolton didn’t mention it when he unveiled the Trump administration’s new Africa strategy, writes columnist David A. Andelman.

United Kingdom

London’s Gatwick Airport reopened after a mystery saboteur wrought 36 hours of travel chaos for more than 100,000 Christmas travelers by using drones to play cat-and-mouse with police snipers and the army.

Russia’s media regulator said it had launched an investigation into the activities of British public broadcaster the BBC, a move it described as a response to pressure being put on a Russian TV channel in Britain. Roskomnadzor, the regulator, said in a statement it was looking into the activities of the BBC World News channel and BBC internet sites to see if they complied with Russian law.

Business

Japanese prosecutors arrested Nissan Motor’s ousted chairman Carlos Ghosn again on new allegations of making Nissan shoulder $16.6 million in personal investment losses, dashing chances he would be released on bail before Christmas.

Since De Beers abandoned its decades-old policy of refusing to sell lab-grown diamonds as jewelery, the price gap between man-made stones and natural gems has widened - and the difference is set to get even bigger.

Millions of users of Amazon’s Echo speakers have grown accustomed to the soothing strains of Alexa, the human-sounding virtual assistant that can tell them the weather, order takeout and handle other basic tasks in response to a voice command. So a customer was shocked last year when Alexa blurted out: “Kill your foster parents.”

Reuters TV

Catalan separatists blocked roads and rallied in their thousands on Friday (December 21) as Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez brought a cabinet meeting to regional capital Barcelona in both a show of central power and attempt at negotiation.

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