Immigration, China Trade, Arctic Warming: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing – The New York Times

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

1. President Trump vowed to block full funding for the government if Democrats refused to finance his border wall, in an unusual televised public sparring in the Oval Office, above.

The testy back-and-forth with the Democratic congressional leaders, Representative Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, raised fresh concerns that the two sides might not reach an agreement on spending bills by a Dec. 21 deadline.

Mr. Trump wants $5 billion for the border wall, but the administration has yet to spend much of the $1.3 billion Congress approved for border security last year. None of that money can be used to construct a new concrete wall of the sort the president has said is vital.

The meeting was the first test of the new power dynamics in Washington, as Democrats prepare to take control of the House next year and Ms. Pelosi musters votes to become House speaker.

CreditFred Dufour/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

2. The Trump administration is planning a series of actions this week targeting China’s trade, cyber and economic policies, expected to be announced as early as Wednesday.

While the two sides have agreed to a 90-day trade truce, administration officials want to keep up a sustained campaign of pressure to ensure that Beijing lives up to the commitments that President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China agreed to this month. Above, in Beijing.

Stock markets initially rallied on the prospect the countries might make progress, after China said that officials in Beijing and their U.S. counterparts had discussed the next stage of trade talks. But those gains faded by midday.

Many points of friction remain. Meng Wanzhou, a top executive of the Chinese technology company Huawei who has been accused of evading U.S. sanctions against Iran, was granted bail of $10 million while awaiting extradition to the United States, a Canadian judge ruled on Tuesday.

Adding to tensions, a former Canadian diplomat, Michael Kovrig, has disappeared in China and may be under detention there, according to the NGO where he now works.


3. The Arctic has been warmer over the last five years than at any time since records began in 1900, scientists have found — and it’s warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet.

Warming air and ocean temperatures are pushing the region into “uncharted territory,” increasingly affecting the continental U.S., according to a new government assessment.

The warmer Arctic air may be connected to extreme weather events far away, including last winter’s severe storms in the U.S. and a bitter cold spell in Europe known as the “Beast From the East.” Above, polar ice.

Our climate team examines the report’s findings.


CreditErin Schaff for The New York Times

4. President Trump’s deeply conservative judicial nominees have found clear sailing to the bench.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, above, the majority leader, called the effort “the most significant, long-term contribution we are making to the country.”

But to the chagrin of even some Republicans, the confirmation hearings have also thrust politically sensitive topics into the spotlight at a time when the party is wrestling with issues of race and governing competence.

The nominees are mostly young white men. And some have serious baggage: Six nominees received a rating of unqualified from the American Bar Association, and others made politically or racially insensitive remarks that resurfaced during their confirmation hearings.


CreditJohn Macdougall/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

5. Theresa May is scrambling to save Brexit.

After postponing a crucial vote in Parliament, she set out on a tour of European capitals, seeking concessions to try to salvage her agreement on Britain’s withdrawal from the E.U.

But European leaders expressed resistance to further negotiations. “There is no room whatsoever for renegotiation,” said the president of the European Commission.

A mishap at one stop, a meeting with Angela Merkel at the German chancellor’s office in Berlin, above, seemed to serve as a metaphor for Mrs. May’s troubles: She became stuck in her car.

British officials said Parliament would have a chance to vote on the deal by Jan. 21. But opposition lawmakers have expressed skepticism, and most people in the country have no idea what could happen next.

Turmoil in the E.U. is now business as usual, our chief diplomatic correspondent writes, in the absence of a strong leader to guide the bloc through the crises that keep upending its agenda.


CreditTing Shen for The New York Times

6. Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, above, fielded questions on the company’s market power and whether it deliberately suppressed conservative content in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

One House Republican succinctly expressed the growing distrust of the search giant, asking, “Are American technology companies instruments of freedom or instruments of control?” Lawmakers also raised concerns about Google’s privacy practices and location tracking.

Google employees used the occasion to question the company’s harassment and discrimination policies. And more than 50 human rights organizations signed a letter demanding that it stop working on a censored version of its search engine for China, called Project Dragonfly.


CreditMatt Black for The New York Times

7. What would happen if all the undocumented immigrants working in the U.S. went away?

Supporters of strict immigration limits say closing the border could result in higher wages that would motivate chronically unemployed Americans to get back to work.

But a strong economy has driven down unemployment, and many employers — particularly those offering blue-collar jobs in farming, construction and child care — say there are few alternatives to hiring workers without legal documents. Above, farming in California’s Central Valley.

Ending illegal immigration could mean that companies would close, American workers would lose their jobs and the economy would contract, experts told us. One economist said: “This would be the worst time to lose them. There are no unemployed Americans ready to do their jobs.


CreditLeft: Hilary Swift for The New York Times; Center: YouTube; Right: Tristan Spinski for The New York Times

8. “You’re a spectacle.”

As opioid deaths have soared in recent years, police departments and strangers with cameras have been posting uncensored videos of drug users passing out.

Life is never the same for the people whose bleakest, most humiliating moments now live on the internet forever. We spoke to drug users across the U.S. about the versions of themselves they saw captured online.

Experts say the videos are doing little more than scapegoating drug users. But for some, the public humiliation was a new way to hit bottom and move forward with treatment.


CreditAndrew Scrivani for The New York Times

9. Simple is often spectacular, our Cooking team writes.

Sheet-pan chicken. Baked macaroni and cheese. Beef and broccoli. Easy and comforting describe the five dishes NYT Cooking readers clicked most often in the last year. Above, honey vinegar chicken thighs.

Check out our most popular recipes of 2018.



10. Finally, who’s a good dog?

Pet owners who are curious about what goes on when they’re away can choose from a range of video surveillance devices that provide two-way video, above, remote-controlled laser-pointer entertainment and smartphone push alerts triggered by barking. Some even dispense treats.

Our home-improvement columnist put a few of the devices through their paces, and checked in with a tech expert to determine whether they posed a hacking risk.

Have a companionable evening.

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