BBC – The Bank of England warns the pound could plummet 25% and the economy shrink 8% in a no-deal scenario.
Reuters – U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Wednesday the United States has “no smoking gun” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the killing of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month.
Asked about reports that a CIA assessment earlier this month concluded the crown prince had ordered Khashoggi’s death, Mattis referred journalists back to the intelligence agency.
“We have no smoking gun the crown prince was involved, not the intelligence community or anyone else. There is no smoking gun,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon, adding that the United States still expected those responsible for the killing to be held accountable.
Daily Beast – After fleeing tear gas shot at the U.S. border, Carlos González confessed confusion and second thoughts about the caravan that carried him to doorstep of his dream: life in the United States.
The 40-year-old corn farmer from Honduras, wearing a pink breast cancer awareness hat and an orange work vest, had hopped on the caravan of Central American migrants figuring it would facilitate his entry into the country. It set out from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on Oct. 12 and for five weeks he could hope and dream—especially as the caravan pushed past police barricades and crossed through closed borders in Guatemala and Mexico.
But the U.S. border has proved impossible so far for the more than 7,000 migrants anxiously arriving in Tijuana, where they’re waiting in the squalor of a small baseball stadium-turned-tent city. It’s just a stone’s throw from the border they hope to cross, which many could not imagine would be so difficult.
“I thought it would be easy,” said González, who traveled north with his wife and two children, ages 4 and 3. He said his family was planning to sign up with Mexican officials for voluntary repatriation.
“We’re here alone, hungry, unprotected. My daughter is sick with diarrhea,” he said from a street by Tijuana’s El Chaparral border crossing, where he hoped to make a little money washing cars. “I don’t want to lose my kids, lose my life.”
Scenes of migrants fleeing tear gas shot their way by U.S. Border Patrol brought condemnation and accusations of excess. The Sunday protest was peaceful, several participants told The Daily Beast. The protesters, including women and children, first encountered Mexican police, but detoured around them and headed toward the border. There, according to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, they breached the fence.
The migrants say they wanted nothing more than to ask for answers as to why they were unable to cross the border or make asylum claims.
U.S. News, Politics & Government
The Hill – President Trump on Wednesday morning shared an image calling for his opponents to face trial for “treason,” with many of them behind bars.
The image, which the president retweeted from a pro-Trump Twitter account, depicts a host of figures Trump has criticized, including former President Obama, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, special counsel Robert Mueller, former FBI Director James Comey and former President Bill Clinton.
“Now that Russia collusion is a proven lie, when do the trials for treason begin?” the caption on the photo reads.
Several of the figures in the image were targeted with mailed explosives allegedly from a Trump supporter last month.
The retweet comes as reports emerge that Mueller’s team is working on their final report about its investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Trump on Monday lashed out at Mueller as a “conflicted prosecutor gone rogue” following a new filing from the special counsel that claims Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, violated a plea agreement by lying to federal prosecutors.
In a series of tweets, Trump accused Mueller of causing “tremendous” damage to the nation’s criminal justice system and “only looking at one side” in his investigation.
The Hill – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) claimed victory on Wednesday, saying she had won the Democratic nomination for Speaker amid an entrenched rebellion from insurgent lawmakers who pose the starkest threat to her long reign atop the party.
The outcome was no surprise. Pelosi was running uncontested and enjoys widespread support within the liberal-heavy caucus she’s led since 2003.
The much higher bar will come in the first week of January, when the full House meets to choose the Speaker in a public vote requiring a majority of the entire voting chamber. It’s there that the insurgents feel they can block Pelosi’s ascension, even as Pelosi and her allies have projected nothing but confidence that she’ll retake the gavel she lost following the red wave elections of 2010.
WENY News – President Donald Trump reiterated his demand in a new interview that Congress appropriate $5 billion for a border wall, saying he would “totally be willing” to shut down the government if he doesn’t get the funding.
The government faces a potential shutdown on December 7 if a funding deal is not reached. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters on Tuesday that Democrats’ position remains at $1.6 billion for border security measures agreed to by GOP and Democratic appropriators.
Trump told Politico in an interview published Wednesday that he believes he would win a political battle with Democrats over the issue.
Breitbart – A Virginia high school principal apologized after a plan to have students recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish was poorly received.
The principal at Westfield High School in Chantilly, Virginia, made the apology after receiving pushback from upset parents who discovered their children had been asked to recite the pledge in Spanish.
The school administrator initially planned for native speakers of foreign languages—such as French or German—to lead the student body in the recitation of the pledge in other languages.
New York Post – He’s never discussed a pardon for Paul Manafort, President Trump said Wednesday — but it’s “not off the table.”
“It was never discussed, but I wouldn’t take it off the table. Why would I take it off the table?” the president said during an Oval Office interview.
He ripped special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and charged that Manafort, former political adviser Roger Stone and Stone’s associate Jerome Corsi were all asked to lie by the special counsel.
“If you told the truth, you go to jail,” Trump said.
Denver Post – Colorado residents who do not identify as male or female will be allowed to choose X as the symbol to represent their gender on their driver’s licenses when an emergency rule goes into effect this month.
The change comes as state officials continue to grapple with policies that allow people who identify differently than their sex assigned at birth to alter their official documents, which LGBTQ advocates say is crucial for transgender and nonbinary peoples’ daily lives.
The Colorado Department of Revenue, which oversees the Division of Motor Vehicles, decided to make the change, effective Nov. 30, after two court cases in which judges found in favor of Colorado people attempting to change their sex on government identification.
The department needed to adopt a policy in line with those decisions to avoid the possibility of being sued, the department’s executive director, Michael Hartman, said in an exclusive interview with The Denver Post.
“This is an important step for the state of Colorado that the state documents reflect our values,” Hartman said. “People are people no matter their sex identification.”
Townhall – Sources close to Paul Manafort and WikiLeaks both denied an explosive Guardian report Tuesday claiming the convicted Trump campaign chairman met with Julian Assange the same month he joined the Trump team.
Economy & Business
Reuters – Sales of new U.S. single-family homes tumbled to a more than 2-1/2-year low in October amid sharp declines in all four regions, further evidence that higher mortgage rates were hurting the housing market.
Bloomberg – This is how housing markets turn. Slowly.
Six years of home-price gains outpacing wage growth; bidding wars replaced by sales at the asking price; days or weeks on the market turning into months; rising mortgage rates. First-time shoppers start to get priced out, making it harder for move-up buyers to sell, and the slowdown ripples gradually up the real estate food chain.
“Every single market in the country has an entry-level problem,” said Candace Adams, who oversees Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ operations and agents across Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.
While U.S. home prices have gained almost 60 percent since March 31, 2012, according to the S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index, household income is up a little less than 30 percent in the same period, Bureau of Economic Analysis data shows. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage rose from about 3.85 percent at the start of 2018 to about 4.74 percent now, Bankrate.com reports. Next year, it’s expected to rise further.
AFP – A day after President Donald Trump’s latest attack on the US central bank, Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell hinted that the key lending rate would move higher but said there was no preset course.
Powell said in a speech in New York that interest rates remained “low by historical standards” and still provided stimulus to the economy. But he said the Fed’s gradual increases balanced the risks between raising too much and not enough.
He also said the central bank did not see “dangerous excesses” in stock markets, with the financial system now “substantially more resilient” than it was before the 2008 financial crisis.
Trump on Tuesday again blasted his hand-picked chief of the US central bank, saying he was “not even a little bit happy” with his selection of Powell.
The Federal Reserve chairman has presided over three interest rate increases this year and is widely expected to hike again in December.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump said the Fed was “way off base.”
“They’re making a mistake because I have a gut and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me,” the president added.
Trump has repeatedly attacked Powell for continuing to raise the benchmark lending rate, which he says undermines the work he is doing to juice the US economy.
Energy & Environment
WFLA – Over the past few days, an alarming number of dead dolphins have washed ashore along southwest Florida beaches, including in the Tampa Bay area.
It’s a reminder that red tide is still a looming threat in the gulf.
This latest trend has many wondering whether we’ll see another tragic increase of dead dolphins here in the Tampa Bay area.
This year was a record setting nightmare for dolphin deaths.
NOAA says the incessant red tide bloom has been a factor in 109 recorded dolphin deaths throughout southwest Florida.
Over the past six weeks, Mote Marine Lab has had a reprieve.
“Over the last week or so, its changed dramatically,” said Gretchen Lovewell with Mote Marine Lab.
Researchers say over the past few days more than 20 dead dolphins have washed ashore along Lee and Collier counties. And the number continues to climb.
“It’s a very unfortunate, very unusual thing. In my 15 years, this is only the second time I’ve ever had to deal with a dead dolphin on the beach,” said Harbor Master Captain Robert Jacobsen.
This weekend, Mote Marine Lab says four dead dolphins were recovered in the Tampa Bay area.
WFTV – Many Central Floridians bundled up with their scarves, coats and gloves Wednesday as they stepped outside their homes to 30 and 40-degree weather.
“This morning was our coldest start in over 8 months. Tonight, we’ll have more 30s and 40s, and with lighter winds, we’ll have a better chance of patchy frost. The chilly air won’t last too long, though. We’ll be back in the 70s and 80s this weekend,” Severe Weather Center 9 meteorologist Brian Shields said.
Science & Technology
Al Jazeera – The Chinese scientist who claims to have created the world’s first genetically-edited babies has paused the trial following an international outcry over the highly controversial procedure.
Geneticist He Jiankui, an associate professor at Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, defended his work on Wednesday in front of a packed biomedical conference in Hong Kong, saying he had successfully altered the DNA of twin girls born to an HIV-positive father.
If his claims prove to be true, it would be a medical first.
Nextgov – Amazon is targeting a new market to disrupt: Space, or more precisely, the data collected by thousands of satellites that orbit the Earth.
The company’s cloud business, Amazon Web Services, announced Tuesday a plan to build a network of 12 ground station facilities around the world that will make it easier for customers to download data from satellites.
The ground stations, strategically positioned near Amazon’s major data center regions, will allow customers to download, process, analyze and store data from space in Amazon’s cloud environment in near real-time.
According to AWS Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy, customers will be able to “lease and pay for access to” ground stations on-demand, similar to how AWS leases computing power to companies through its cloud business.
Companies in the growing multibillion-dollar space hardware and communications market currently have to build or lease their own ground antennas to communicate with satellites, an expensive process that Jassy said is made more cumbersome due to complex custom software and workflows. The satellites—some the size of a toaster—provide data as varied as weather measurements and location tracking.
Using AWS Ground Station, Jassy said companies could forego infrastructure investment costs or software burdens and pay for access. If Amazon’s bet pays off, it could become the de facto home to commercial satellite data, much as it is the leading cloud service provider worldwide.
Mercola – Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. While traditional (combustible) cigarette use has declined, the number of teens using e-cigarettes (vaping) has steadily risen
- Between 2011 and 2015, vaping among high school students rose 900 percent
- According to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey, 3.6 million children and teens are now vaping, a 78 percent increase among high school students and a 48 percent increase among middle school students from the year before
- To rein in the use of e-cigs among children and teens, the FDA will restrict sale of sweet-flavored vaping products in convenience stores and gas stations
- Stores selling child-friendly e-cig flavors must keep the products in an age-restricted section and must have age verification measures in place to prevent underage sale
Mercola – Nearly all tea bags contain plastic woven through the paper to increase the durability of a product designed to stay together inside a cup of hot water for many minutes. The heat releases minute pieces of plastic from the bag, as well as phthalates
- Since the bags contain plastics, they are not completely biodegradable or compostable and a spokesperson from Twinings Tea recommends tea bags should not be used in compost piles or added directly to soil
- Dangers from consuming plastics include an increased intake of phthalates, associated with hormone disruption, increased risk of miscarriage and low vitamin D levels
- By using loose leaf tea, steeped in fresh, pure water with a reusable infuser or tea strainer, you can enjoy the many benefits of tea while avoiding plastic exposure
Breitbart – Mike Lindell, the founder and CEO of My Pillow, has invested $1 million in the production of a pro-life movie that is critical of Planned Parenthood.