Tuesday morning news: December 11, 2018

Brexit vote cancelled » A cloud of uncertainty looms even larger over the UK this week. Prime Minister Theresa May acknowledged on Monday that her Brexit plan, scheduled for a vote today, was headed for certain defeat.

MAY: We will therefore defer the vote scheduled for tomorrow and not proceed to divide the house at this time.

Labour Party lawmakers clamored for May to resign after that announcement.

May’s political opponents want a second referendum, hoping voters will change their minds about parting ways with the European Union. And members of her own Conservative Party want a deal that achieves more independence from the EU.

May told lawmakers negotiations mean making compromises.

MAY: Those members who continue to disagree need to shoulder the responsibility of advocating an alternative solution that can be delivered. 

Still, she said she’s left with no choice but to go back to the EU and voice the concerns of members of parliament. European Union leaders insist the UK will not get a better offer.

SCOTUS Planned Parenthood » The Supreme Court handed Planned Parenthood a legal victory Monday by refusing to take up two funding cases that lower courts decided in the abortion provider’s favor. WORLD Radio’s Paul Butler has more.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Planned Parenthood successfully sued the states of Louisiana and Kansas for dropping the organization as a Medicaid provider. The states moved to pull funding from the abortion giant after undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress showed the group profiting from the sale of aborted baby body parts.

Other lower courts have in the past differed in their interpretations of the rights of states to select Medicaid providers and patients’ right to challenge those decisions. That would normally lead the high court to take the case.

Justice Clarence Thomas dissented from the court’s decision not to hear this case and in a rare opinion said states and patients need clarity on the issue. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito joined his dissent, but Chief Justice John Roberts and the newly seated Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Paul Butler.

French president addresses nation amid violent protests » French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the people of France on Monday, four weeks after proposed fuel tax hikes sparked raucous and sometimes violent protests.

Macron, heard here through an interpreter, acknowledged criticism for not addressing the crisis sooner.

MACRON: Maybe in the beginning I gave you the impression that I didn’t care, but that’s not true. Maybe I have hurt some of you. That was not my intention. 

Macron promised to speed up tax relief for struggling workers and to scrap a tax hike for retirees. He also reiterated earlier promises to raise the minimum wage and pledged to abolish taxes on overtime pay starting January 1st, several months ahead of schedule.

Meng Wanzhou bail hearing continues » The bail hearing for Chinese business executive Meng Wanzhou continued on Monday in a Canadian court.

Her lawyer argued she is not a flight risk and should be granted bail. China, meanwhile, is threatening to retaliate against the U.S. and Canada if she’s not set free.

Wanzhou is the chief financial officer of telecommunications giant Huawei and also the daughter of its founder.

Canadian authorities detained her at the Vancouver airport on December 1st at the request of the United States. The U.S. government alleges Huawei used a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. It also claims Meng and Huawei misled American banks about its business dealings in Iran.

Republican senator stalls judicial nominees over special counsel protection measure » Judicial confirmations have ground to a halt in the U.S. Senate. That as Arizona Republican Jeff Flake kept his promise to stall nominees until the majority leader agrees to bring a measure to the floor protecting the Russia probe.

Democrats and a handful of Republicans including Flake say Congress should stand up to the White House…  

FLAKE: The message that needs to be sent to the White House is that we do not have the president’s back if he fires the special counsel.

The senator wants a bill protecting special counsel Robert Mueller. Flake serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee where Republicans have a one-seat majority of 11-to-10. That means, without backing from Senator Flake or at least one Democrat on the panel, nominees cannot advance out of committee.

So far, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has maintained such a measure isn’t needed because Mueller’s job is not in danger.

President Trump searches for new chief of staff » President Trump is looking for a new chief of staff after announcing Saturday that John Kelly will leave the post in just a few weeks. But he will not get the man who was reportedly his first choice for the job. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Many in Washington believed Nick Ayers, who is chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence, would replace John Kelly. But Trump reportedly wanted a two-year commitment, while Ayers only wanted to serve on a transitional basis. Ayers tweeted Sunday that he will leave the White House at the end of the year.

The president is reportedly considering several candidates. Among them former deputy campaign manager David Bossie, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker.

Two other candidates are generating a lot of buzz—Congressman Mark Meadows, who chairs the House Freedom Caucus and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

(PA via AP) In this grab taken from video, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement in the House of Commons, in London, Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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