Shutdown 2.0 May Be Just Around the Corner
The longest U.S. government shutdown in history is over, but the damage has been done.
Fire crews missed their window for controlled burns to prevent wildfires. Irreplaceable relics may have been damaged in unguarded national parks. Scientific experiments were abandoned. And a generation of talent may now think twice about taking government jobs.
Then there’s the threat it could happen all over again.
Congressional negotiators and the White House face a Feb. 15 deadline to bridge an impasse over border security funding – with President Donald Trump making clear yesterday he won’t take no for an answer on the demand that triggered the 35-day impasse: a wall along the border with Mexico.
“Does anybody really think I won’t build the WALL?” Trump tweeted, after his acting chief of staff said the president was prepared to shutter the government again or declare an emergency if needed.
With Democrats emboldened and polls indicating the public largely blame Trump and his fellow Republicans for the stalemate, it’s unclear why the president might think he’s any likelier to get his way now.
Dueling leaders | Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro andJuan Guaido head of the National Assembly, who says he’s the country’s only legitimate authority, are digging into their positions as governments around the world take sides. While Maduro participated in military exercises this weekend to show he still has the backing of the Armed Forces, Guaido’s supporters passed out copies of an amnesty bill to soldiers and called for more protests. And as Maduro tries to shore up his grip on overseas assets, Guaido and his allies are trying to pry them away.
‘Basic decency’ | In his strongest comments so far, French President Emmanuel Macron criticized Japan’s handling of a case against Carlos Ghosn, the former head of both Renault and Nissan who’s been imprisoned since his Nov. 19 arrest in Tokyo. Macron said he told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the detention of the former chief executive of France’s largest carmaker was “too long and too hard.” Japan shot back, saying due process is being followed. Rising tensions could impact the future of the alliance.
Hacking vulnerability | The U.S. military’s cybersecurity defenses aren’t advancing fast enough to stay ahead of the “onslaught of multipronged” attacks envisioned by enemies, Tony Capaccio exclusively reports. The Pentagon is warning the rate of improvement “is not outpacing the growing capabilities of potential adversaries.”
Mueller assist? | Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative and adviser to Trump’s campaign, called his indictment in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation “thin” but didn’t rule out cooperating.
Cold War fears | Australia has warned the U.S. and China that any attempt to divide Asia into separate blocs would be “doomed to failure” and could damage global security and the world economy. The admonition comes as the biggest economies enter a pivotal round of talks this week in an attempt to end an increasingly damaging trade war. Bloomberg unpacked the three most likely scenarios to come out of negotiations, with the base case being an agreement to keep talking.
What to watch:
- U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May risks losing control of Brexit in a series of votes in Parliament starting tomorrow that could see her forced to suspend the entire divorce or be sent back to Brussels to negotiate the impossible.
- In a move that will provide relief to the global aluminum market, the U.S. Treasury Department lifted sanctions on three firms tied to Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s suspension of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen has drawn condemnation from the opposition and legal community, and expressions of concern from the U.S. and EU about the possible impact on the integrity of general elections next month.
And finally... On the 500th anniversary of his death, Leonardo da Vinci is being dragged into an increasingly acrimonious row between his homeland and France, where he died. Lucia Borgonzoni, undersecretary at Italy’s culture ministry, wants to review a deal for the loan of da Vinci works from Italy to the Louvre Museum in Paris – which is staging an exhibition assembling major works by the Florentine master in October. It’s no coincidence that Borgonzoni is a member of the rightist League party, whose leader Matteo Salvini is sparring with Macron.
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