January 2, 2019 / 2:01 PM / 9 months ago

Wednesday Morning Briefing

Congress is set to reconvene with no signs of a workable plan to end the government shutdown, stock markets around the world are nursing a New Year’s hangover and Google wins approval for radar-based hand motion sensor. Catch up on the latest headlines.

U.S. Capitol is seen on the first day of a partial federal government shutdown in Washington, U.S., December 22, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Highlights

Congress is set to reconvene with no signs of a workable plan to end the government shutdown. Tomorrow, when Democrats take over the House, they plan to approve a two-part spending package meant to end the 12-day-old partial federal shutdown. But its prospects in the Republican-led Senate are grim. The stage is now set for the first major battle of the new Congress. Since December 22 some 800,000 employees have been furloughed or are working without pay.

U.S. border agents launched tear gas into Mexico early on Tuesday morning to deter a group of migrants. Clouds of the noxious gas could be seen wafting up from around the fence at the border. One migrant picked up a canister and threw it back. U.S. officials said the group had attacked agents with projectiles but a Reuters witness did not see any migrants throwing rocks at U.S. agents.

As the U.S. society ages, senior living communities are on the rise. So are claims and lawsuits against them. And when they lose, it is usually down to insurers to pay up. Some senior living facilities could see insurance rate hikes in 2019 as high as 30 percent, according to insurance broker Willis Towers Watson. While aging is a global phenomenon, the U.S. dependence on senior centers confronts it with challenges other nations may yet have to grapple with.

World

Stock markets around the world are nursing a New Year's hangover as growth worries persist. Shares started 2019 on a downbeat note, oil prices and bond yields slid, and the Japanese yen strengthened on Wednesday as data from China to France confirmed the picture of a global economic slowdown. The spread between two- and 10-year yields has in turn shrunk to the smallest since 2007, a flattening that has been a portent of recessions in the past.

A view of a train accident site on the Great Belt Bridge in Denmark, January 2, 2019. Tim Kildeborg Jensen/Ritzau Scanpix

Six people have been killed in a train accident on a bridge linking two of Denmark’s main islands, train operator DSB said. The passenger train was heading towards the capital when it was hit by objects or tarpaulin from a freight train, according to Banedanmark, which is responsible for maintenance and traffic control of the railway network.

Protests have erupted in India after two women defied an ancient ban on visiting Hindu temples. The women entered a temple in the state of Kerala on Wednesday, sparking rowdy protests and calls for a strike by outraged conservative Hindu groups. The Kerala state government is run by left-wing parties and it has sought to allow women into the temple - a position that has drawn the criticism of both of the main political parties, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

On the 60th anniversary of Cuba’s revolution, ruling Communist Party leader Raul Castro blasted the Trump administration. He criticized it for returning to an outdated path of confrontation with the island nation and of intervening in Latin America.

Commentary: The biggest security threats in 2019. With an ongoing trade war between the United States and China, Russian military posturing in Eastern Europe at its greatest since the Cold War and the most unpredictable U.S. administration in living memory, 2019 may offer no shortage of strategic surprises. Reuters global affairs columnist Peter Apps identifies some of the key areas to watch in the coming 12 months.

Technology

Alphabet Inc’s Google unit won approval from U.S. regulators to deploy a radar-based motion sensing device known as Project Soli. Google says the sensor can allow users to press an invisible button between the thumb and index fingers or a virtual dial that turns by rubbing a thumb against the index finger.

TerraPower, a nuclear energy venture chaired by Bill Gates, is seeking a new partner for early-stage trials of its technology after new U.S. rules forced it to abandon an agreement with China. The company reached an agreement with state-owned China National Nuclear Corp in 2017 to build an experimental nuclear reactor south of Beijing. But Gates wrote in an essay published late last week that TerraPower is unlikely to follow through on its plans in the face of new U.S. restrictions on technology deals with China.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala - Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between - Arrivals - New York City, U.S. - 01/05/17 - Comedian Hasan Minhaj. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Netfilx pulled an episode of the comedy show “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” from its streaming service in Saudi Arabia after kingdom officials complained, multiple media outlets reported Tuesday. The episode of the news-comedy program criticized the country over the slaying of Jamal Khashoggi last year.

Reuters TV

Family of alleged spy in Russia says he's innocent
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