January 9, 2019 / 2:14 PM / 8 months ago

Wednesday Morning Briefing

House Democrats to test Republicans on Trump’s wall demand, Australian police investigate suspicious packages sent to consulates and Saudi private jet industry stalls after corruption crackdown. Catch up on the latest headlines.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a televised address to the nation from his desk in the Oval Office, about immigration and the southern U.S. border on the 18th day of a partial government shutdown, at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

United States

As a partial U.S. government shutdown neared the three-week mark, Democrats are set to test Republicans’ resolve in backing President Donald Trump’s drive to build a wall on the border with Mexico, which has sparked an impasse over agency funding. A look at the long view shows illegal apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexico border are down from peaks in the early 2000s. In addition, a growing proportion of Americans blame Trump for a partial government shutdown that will cut off paychecks to federal workers this week, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has overseen the Russian election meddling probe, is set to leave the U.S. Department of Justice in coming weeks as President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the department is set to take over, several U.S. media outlets reported on Wednesday.


New documents link Huawei to suspected front companies in Iran and Syria. In December, Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada. Now, records reveal new ties between Huawei and two suspected front firms in Iran and Syria.

Saudi private jet industry stalls after corruption crackdown. A crackdown on corruption in Saudi Arabia has severely dented the kingdom’s private jet industry in a sign of the impact the campaign has had on private enterprise and the wealthy elite.

Fiat Chrysler nearing U.S. diesel emissions settlement. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is nearing a settlement to resolve the U.S. Justice Department’s allegations that the Italian-American automaker used illegal software to allow 104,000 U.S. diesel vehicles to pollute beyond legal limits, a person briefed on the matter said.


Hazmat and fire crews are seen outside the Indian and French Consulates on St Kilda Road in Melbourne, Australia, January 9, 2019. Staff have been evacuated as emergency crews respond to a number of incidents involving foreign consulates in Melbourne. AAP Image/Kaitlyn Offer via REUTERS

Police in Australia are investigating suspicious packages sent to a wide range of embassies and consulates, which officials said included the U.S. and British missions in Melbourne, but there were no reports of harm to staff.

Australia said on Wednesday it would consider taking in a 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled to Thailand saying she feared her family, which she accused of abuse, would kill her.

Riot police were deployed at the electoral commission headquarters in Kinshasa on Wednesday amid fears of a disputed result in a Democratic Republic of Congo presidential election marked by accusations of vote fraud. The tally could be announced later in the day after the commission met all night and into the morning.

Commentary: U.S. should review its approach to Syria’s Assad. As President Donald Trump and his national security team hammer out the details of U.S. military withdrawal from Syria, Washington should review its attitude toward Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, writes James Dobbins, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state. Washington’s strategy, under Obama as well as Trump, has been to “impose costs” on the government in Damascus by diplomatic ostracism and economic sanctions. This approach is morally satisfying and politically expedient, but it helps perpetuate the conflict and sustain Assad’s dependency on Iran.


Donald Trump last year pulled out of an international pact on Iran’s nuclear program and re-imposed sanctions intended to scupper Tehran’s oil exports, curb its missile program and clip its regional influence. The measures have hit Iran’s economy hard.

The Taliban must have a role in Afghanistan in future, Iran’s foreign minister said, but added that the hardline Islamist group should not have a dominant role. Efforts for a negotiated settlement of the 18-year war in Afghanistan have gathered pace in recent weeks, even as reports that the U.S. president plans to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops have triggered uncertainty in Kabul.


Chinese and U.S. teams ended trade talks in Beijing on Wednesday that lasted longer than expected. Officials said details will be released soon, raising hopes an all-out trade war that could badly disrupt the global economy can be avoided.

Apple, which slashed its quarterly sales forecast last week, has reduced planned production for its three new iPhone models by about 10 percent for the January-March quarter, the Nikkei Asian Review reported

China’s approval of imports of a DowDuPont genetically modified soybean puts rival Bayer AG on the defensive, investors and analysts said, as U.S. farmers will have a new choice when planting their most valuable agricultural export.

Reuters TV

Drone makers are setting their flight path away from consumer toys and on businesses willing to shell out for flying robots.

The flight path for drones unveiled at CES
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