January 19, 2018 / 12:28 PM / in a month

Friday Morning Briefing

Congress battles to avoid a government shutdown, Trump is set to address anti-abortion activists and Putin takes a dip in an icy lake to mark Orthodox Epiphany.

U.S. government shutdown

Legislation to stave off an imminent federal government shutdown encountered obstacles in the U.S. Senate, despite the passage of a month-long funding bill by the House of Representatives hours earlier. Without the injection of new money, no matter how temporary, scores of federal agencies across the United States will be forced to shut starting at midnight, when existing funds expire. 

A shutdown would be an embarrassment for Republicans, who control the levers of power in the capital. But it might fulfill a wish Trump expressed in May 2017, when he tweeted: “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix this mess.” 

Three hours west of Chicago, a federal prison stands ready to take in thousands of inmates and hire hundreds of guards, but its expansion is on hold, awaiting approval from a U.S. Congress that is again paralyzed by budget disputes.  

United States

The U.S. Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to quickly overturn a lower court ruling that blocked President Donald Trump’s move to end a program that protects hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children. 

Trump will become the third sitting U.S. president to address anti-abortion activists at the annual March for Life, highlighting his shift in recent years from a supporter of women’s access to abortion to a powerful opponent. 

Initial tests in Nevada on a compact nuclear power system designed to sustain a long-duration NASA human mission on the inhospitable surface of Mars have been successful and a full-power run is scheduled for March, officials said. Months-long testing began in November at the energy department’s Nevada National Security Site, with an eye toward providing energy for future astronaut and robotic missions in space and on the surface of Mars, the moon or other solar system destinations. 

World

As influential voices within the U.S. business community warn China that Trump is serious about tough action over Beijing’s trade practices, there is little sense of a crisis in the Chinese capital, where officials think he is bluffing

North Korea may be preparing to hold a military parade on the eve of next month’s winter Olympics in South Korea, analysts and diplomats say, even as the two countries have sought to mend ties. 

Rohingya leaders in a Bangladesh refugee camp have drawn up a list of demands they want Myanmar to meet before authorities begin sending back hundreds of thousands in a repatriation process expected to begin next week and last for two years. Read the exclusive

Reuters TV: New Zealand’s prime minister is pregnant with her first child 

France politely rejected British foreign minister Boris Johnson’s idea of building a giant bridge across the English Channel after Brexit, saying that, while far-fetched ideas were worth considering, there were plenty of major European projects to finish first. 

A Russian teenager attacked a group of younger students with an ax, injuring six people, before setting his school on fire, investigators said. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin stripped off to his bathing trunks and immersed himself in the freezing waters of a lake late on Thursday, observing an Orthodox Christian ritual to mark the feast of Epiphany. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes a dip in the water during Orthodox Epiphany celebrations at lake Seliger, Tver region, Russia January 19, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via REUTERS

Business

The dollar wallowed near three-year lows as heightened fears of a U.S. government shutdown unnerved investors, while U.S. Treasury yields continued an upward march to hit their highest levels since September 2014. 

The U.S. securities regulator raised alarm about the safety of bitcoin-themed investments, telling the fund industry they want answers to their concerns before endorsing more than a dozen proposed products based on cryptocurrencies. 

A group of investors led by SoftBank closed a deal with Uber, making SoftBank the largest stakeholder in the ride-services firm and providing a much-needed boost to the controversy-ridden business. 

Breakingviews: Amazon HQ2 choices disappointingly undisruptive  

Boeing is working to overcome the Brazilian military’s objections to its proposed tie-up with Embraer SA with alternatives that would preserve the government’s strategic veto rights and ensure safeguards for its defense programs, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters

Some traders at the largest Wall Street banks are about to get big, fat zeroes for bonuses while they watch markets thrive. Trading revenue was down significantly across the industry during the fourth quarter, wrapping up a year in which clients around the globe sat idle as market volatility hovered near historic lows. 

Commentary

If Donald Trump withdraws from the Iran nuclear deal, his decision will have long-term consequences not only for the United States but also for global attempts to control nuclear proliferation, writes Princeton University nuclear policy specialist Seyed Hossein Mousavian. Among the outcomes: increased global mistrust of Washington, removal of any incentive for North Korea to negotiate a deal to curtail its own nuclear program, damage to the credibility of other U.N. Security Council resolutions and hindrance of the International Atomic Energy Agency's ability to carry out inspections. 

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