Wednesday morning news: December 12, 2018

President Trump, Democrats refuse to budge on border wall » President Trump tangled with top Democrats in the Oval Office Tuesday over government funding and security at the southern border.

In a meeting with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the president hardened his stance on building a wall. Schumer urged the president to accept a Senate compromise bill—a continuing resolution—to fund the government.

SCHUMER: We have a proposal that Democrats and Republicans will support to do a C-R that will not shut down the government. We urge you to take it. TRUMP: And if it’s not good border security I won’t take it. SCHUMER: It is very good border security. TRUMP: And if it’s not good border security, I won’t take it! 

The president said the wall—his words—“will get built.” He suggested if Congress does not fund the wall, the military might build it.

Congress must pass seven appropriations bills by next week or face a government shutdown one week from Friday. Trump wants $5 billion designated for border security while Democrats want to sustain current spending levels at a more modest $1.3 billion.

The president needs to woo Democratic support in the Republican-majority Senate to secure 60 votes needed for a spending bill. So far, neither side has budged.

Senate passes massive farm bill » The Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday in favor of a sweeping agriculture bill. The measure passed on a vote of 87-to-13. It will fund key farm safety net programs for the next five years. The House is expected to pass the measure soon and send it to President Trump for his signature.

The legislation sets agricultural and food policy for five years. It also provides $400 billion in farm subsidies, conservation programs and food aid for the poor. And the bill legalizes the cultivation of industrial hemp, an initiative championed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

One thing the bill doesn’t have: tighter work requirements for food stamp recipients. That was a provision in the House bill that became a major sticking point during negotiations.

Lawmakers grill Google CEO over accusations of political bias » Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee grilled Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Tuesday over accusations of political bias against conservatives.

Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte…

GOODLATTE:  Allegations that Google manipulates its algorithm to favor the political party it likes, the ideas that it likes or the products it likes. There are numerous allegations in the news that Google employees have thought about doing this, talked about doing this, and have done it. 

Pichai disputed the sources of evidence the committee cited and said Google employees cannot manipulate the company’s algorithms.

PICHAI: I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way. To do otherwise would be against our core principles and our business interests. 

Top committee Democrat Jerrold Nadler dismissed concerns of political bias at Google as a right wing conspiracy theory. He said lawmakers should instead examine issues such as the spread of misinformation and Russia’s efforts to influence U.S. elections online.

Judge orders Stephanie Clifford to legal feels to President Trump » A California judge ordered Stephanie Clifford to pay nearly $300,000 in legal fees to President Trump. Judge S. James Otero dismissed Clifford’s defamation case against Trump in October.

Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, is a pornographic film performer who claims to have had an affair with Trump in 2006. She was paid $130,000 as part of an agreement not to go public with those claims. Her case challenging that non-disclosure agreement signed with Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen is still pending.

Jury recommends life in prison for James Alex Fields Jr » A Virginia jury has recommended a sentence for the man convicted of driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last year. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: The state jury recommended a sentence of life in prison plus 419 years for James Alex Fields Jr. The same jury found Fields guilty last week of first-degree murder and several other charges.

A judge will formally sentence Fields at a later date and can impose the recommended prison time or something less. The crime did not meet Virginia requirements for a possible death sentence, but Fields could face the death penalty in a separate federal trial on hate crime charges.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

Possible terror attack in France leaves at least four dead » A shooting in the French city of Strasbourg killed at least four people and wounded 11 others near a world-famous Christmas market Tuesday. Soldiers guarding the market wounded the gunman, but he got away.

The city of Strasbourg is home to the European Parliament, which was locked down after the shooting. French authorities have opened a terrorism investigation.

Police said Tuesday night that the gunman has been identified and a manhunt was underway to track him down. The suspect has a criminal record and was previously flagged as a possible extremist.

Court protects Christian groups from Obamacare mandate » A federal court issued a ruling Tuesday protecting the religious freedom of several Christian groups who sued over the Obamacare contraceptive mandate. WORLD Radio’s Leigh Jones has that story.

LEIGH JONES, NEWS EDITOR: The U.S. district court ruling ordered the government not to enforce the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive and abortifacient mandate against six Christian organizations.

The Association of Christian Schools International, Samaritan Ministries International, Taylor University, Indiana Wesleyan University, Asbury Theological Seminary, and Alliance Defending Freedom—specifically objected to providing coverage for abortifacients.

The decision follows moves by the Trump administration to provide religious nonprofit groups with a satisfactory exemption to the rule. That exemption was finalized last month.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) President Donald Trump speaks during a meets with Democratic leaders the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, in Washington. 

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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