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U.S. shutdown talks collapse, Britain’s Parliament takes up Brexit, and Belgium debates a law on animal slaughter. Here’s the latest:
On the 19th day, the president pounded a table
President Trump’s frustration boiled over as a partial government shutdown in the U.S. lurched into its 19th day. He stormed out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders after Speaker Nancy Pelosi again said she would not fund a wall on the southern border even if he agreed to reopen the government.
Democrats accused the president of throwing a “temper tantrum,” while Mr. Trump dismissed the meeting on Twitter as “a total waste of time.” Democrats have been emphasizing the costs of the shutdown — farmers missing crop payments, national parks trashed — rather than delving into the question of a barrier.
Possible end game: Mr. Trump again raised the option of declaring a national emergency and ordering the wall constructed himself, which could be a face-saving way out but could also be a violation of constitutional norms.
Go deeper: A border is rarely just a border. Here are some of the most contentious frontiers around the world.
Brexit: a game of brinkmanship
The British Parliament resumed debate on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan — which is virtually certain to be rejected in a crucial vote next week.
Developments: Parliament has already dealt Mrs. May two setbacks in as many days. First, lawmakers limited her ability to block the exits and run down the clock, requiring her to return within days of a lost vote with some new plan. (Lawmakers could also then submit their own alternatives.) And they passed a measure making it difficult for Britain to leave the E.U. without a deal.
What now? Mrs. May might be gambling that a so-called no-deal exit, looming ever larger, will force a divided Parliament to support her plan in the nick of time. But that strategy only works through heightened national tension and economic uncertainty — and those who believe a no-deal exit can be managed might be immune to pressure. As for persuading the E.U. to renegotiate terms, analysts say that Mrs. May’s hopes of that are misplaced.
Alternative paths: The prospect of a second public referendum on Brexit is growing, and there is also some talk of delaying the March 29 departure date.
Rescued migrants finally reach shore
A group of 49 migrants who had been stranded at sea after being refused entry to European ports was allowed to dock in Malta. Our reporter went aboard the rescue ships and saw the human impact of Europe’s hard-line policy shift on migration, which has sharply fallen at sea.
Details: Most of the asylum seekers had been rescued from a faulty rubber dinghy off Libya on Dec. 22 by the Sea-Watch 3, a ship owned by the private German rescue organization Sea Watch. But that ship and another were then forced to wander the waves, in often-challenging weather, as they were punted between ports.
Future: Nine E.U. member states will receive the migrants, according to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of Malta, which, like Italy, has been blocking private rescue ships.
Brazil: The new far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, withdrew the country from a U.N. migration accord signed last month.
Belgium debates a law on slaughtering animals
A fight over religion, politics and animal pain has broken out in Belgium in response to a new requirement that animals be stunned before they are killed, which Muslim and Jewish leaders say is prohibited in their faiths.
Debate: Muslim and Jewish religious leaders argue that stunning can cause great suffering, and that their ritual slaughter — carried out with a sharp blade to the neck — is intended to minimize pain. Belgium is now considering whether to create a religious exemption like the one the U.S. has.
History: In 1933, the Nazis prohibited slaughter without stunning, citing animal cruelty, and because many on the right have joined animal rights activists in supporting the ban, some people see dangerous anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim overtones.
Here’s what else is happening
U.S.-China trade war: Three days of talks between midlevel officials ended on a positive note in Beijing, helping clear the way for potential higher-level talks aimed at averting a major escalation of the trade war on March 2, the Trump administration’s deadline for raising tariffs on a slate of imports from China.
Democratic Republic of Congo: Hopes for the country’s first undisputed transfer of power foundered when Congolese election officials announced that Felix Tshisekedi, a candidate favored by the departing president, had won the presidential election, defying independent assessments that he overwhelmingly lost.
Rod Rosenstein: The U.S. deputy attorney general, who has been overseeing the special counsel’s Russia investigation, is expected to step down after President Trump’s choice for attorney general is confirmed, according to administration officials.
China: New research shows how an institute funded by Coca-Cola and other multinational beverage and snack companies has influenced Chinese health policy.
Saudi Arabia: The young Saudi woman who barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to avoid deportation was granted refugee status by the U.N., Australian officials said, clearing the way for an asylum request.
Women in power: There are now more women over the age of 50 in the U.S. than at any other point in history — and they’re becoming more visible and powerful, our gender editor writes.
Norwegian Air: The low-cost airline was forced to land a flight in Iran because of a technical error. A month later, the American-made jet is still stuck there because U.S. sanctions have made it difficult to get spare parts.
Fiat Chrysler: The automaker is said to have agreed to pay $650 million to settle U.S. lawsuits over rigging emissions tests, without admitting guilt.
Recipe of the day: Salty-sweet, crisp-soft kitchen sink cookies are a great way to use up extra candy, baking chocolate and even pretzels and chips.
“5G” is the next leap in wireless communication, and it’s already making its way into smartphones and other devices. Here’s why it’s different, and what it means to you.
Whether you travel for business or pleasure, you can get some mileage from these resolutions for better travel in 2019.
Tintin, the natty young reporter and adventurer created by the Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi (better known as Hergé), turns 90 today.
The intrepid lad made his official debut on Jan. 10, 1929, in a young readers’ supplement of the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle.
Like other comic book characters, Tintin sprang from the page into other forms: Belgian theater, cartoons and movies, including “The Adventures of Tintin,” the 2011 animated film directed by Steven Spielberg.
(A Times article about the movie suggested pronouncing Tintin the French way: “Tanh-tanh,” and not as a rhyme of “win win.”)
Neither Tintin nor his creator was without controversy. One adventure was deemed anti-Communist, while another was viewed as anti-American.
The cartoonist took it all in stride: “For years, the left has said I’m right, and the right has said I’m left. I don’t like to contradict either.”
George Gene Gustines, an editor who has covered the comics business since 2002, wrote today’s Back Story.
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