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The briefing will be off for a couple of days. We’ll see you again on Thursday.
Now, back to the news:
The U.S. government stays shuttered, Germany’s far right gets a new look and Facebook documents reveal worrying moderation rules. Here’s the latest:
U.S. government shutdown will run into the new year.
House Republicans informed lawmakers that there would be no votes on spending legislation on Friday or Monday and thus no relief for the 800,000 federal workers who are either furloughed or working without pay.
The details: House Democrats, who assume control next Thursday, are weighing three approaches to getting federal funds flowing, none of which would include $5 billion for President Trump’s proposed wall along the southern border. Party leaders said they would vote as soon as their first day back, hoping to present the Democrats as a steadying hand in Washington.
How does Facebook monitor billions of posts per day?
The company, which makes about $5 billion in profit per quarter, says it is doing everything it can to get rid of posts that sow social division and even violence.
But it must also continue to attract users from more countries and try to keep them on the site longer to maintain the endless expansion that is core to its business.
The company’s solution: a network of moderators using a maze of PowerPoint slides spelling out what’s forbidden, according to leaked documents.
The details: Our review of the company’s rule books revealed gaps, biases and outright errors, allowing extremist language to flourish in some countries while censoring mainstream speech in others.
Germany’s far right rebrands itself
Generation Identity is a far-right German youth movement that is under observation by several European intelligence agencies. The group aims to bring down liberalism and rid Europe of non-European immigrants.
But you would never have guessed.
The group is part hippie, part hipster. Members are better dressed, better educated and less angry than the skinheads of older iterations of the right wing. In fact, the “new right” seeks to distance itself from neo-Nazis.
Why it matters: Though the number of committed Generation Identity followers in Germany is relatively small, estimated by Germany’s domestic intelligence service at 400 to 500, officials say the number of sympathizers is far greater. There are worries that the group could act as a conduit between conservatism and extremism and draw young people into their orbit.
Here’s what happened in 2018
Our Year in Pictures takes you around the world, month by month.
Our list of most-read stories provides another kind of map of the major themes of the year.
Below are some of the story lines your Morning Briefing has followed — and will be following — most closely.
Climate change: Wildfires, hurricanes, drenching rains — as in India, above — and drought ravaged communities around the world. Temperatures reached new highs (check the change in your own area). Arctic ice melted more rapidly than ever. Will nations follow through on a global climate framework agreed upon in Poland?
Trade: The U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, spent the year engaged in a tit-for-tat trade war. The global economy appears to be slowing down, and rising U.S. interest rates are worrying markets.
Privacy: A Times investigation revealed that a consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, used private Facebook data to help President Trump’s campaign, raising alarming questions about Silicon Valley’s privacy practices. Months later, we found that the social network gave Microsoft, Amazon, Spotify and others far greater access to people’s data than it had disclosed. And we learned that location data pulled from your phone apps is more personal (and public) than telecom companies say it is.
Migration: A record 68.5 million people, including people fleeing war in Syria and persecution in Myanmar, were forcibly displaced by the end of 2017. Venezuela’s misery is causing a refugee crisis in South America, and migrants are piling up at the U.S. border with Mexico. Migration may increase with climate change, and migrants are the targets of anti-immigration rhetoric around the world.
President Trump’s legal troubles: Many of the investigations into Mr. Trump’s business dealings, potential campaign finance violations and whether his campaign had connections to Russia could come to a head in the new year, particularly with Democrats taking control of the House.
Russia: The country’s increasingly aggressive behavior, including the attempted assassination of a former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter on British soil, worsened relations between the Kremlin and many Western countries.
Saudi Arabia: The brutal killing of a dissident journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, shined a harsh light on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is believed to have ordered the assassination, and also on Saudi Arabia’s broader human rights abuses, particularly in the Yemen war. None of this was good optics for the prince’s plans to engage international investors and move the Saudi economy away from oil.
Brexit: Prime Minister Theresa May tried to steer Britain through one of its biggest political crises, but Parliament still has to vote on the deal she struck with the E.U. on the country’s planned departure from the bloc in March. The throughline is “uncertainty.”
North Korea: This year saw the first one-on-one between a sitting U.S. president and a leader of North Korea, at a splashy summit meeting in Singapore, above. But progress toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has since stalled.
Nationalism: From Hungary to Brazil, the march of nationalism and populism continued. But in some arenas — Canada, for instance, and much of the business world — affirmations of global engagement countered the narrative.
#MeToo: The testimonies of Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accused the U.S. Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault, along with Judge Kavanaugh’s subsequent confirmation, highlighted the country’s deep, lingering gender divide.
Tips for a more fulfilling life.
Recipe of the day: This cheese-steak sub, from the founding editor of NYT Cooking, is an adult upgrade of an American college staple.
Here are six ways to work smarter, not harder, in 2019.
Medical illiteracy could hurt you.
We often hear from readers asking why we use unnamed sources.
The reason is straightforward: Some people in sensitive positions will only speak candidly if their names aren’t used.
But we know our credibility is on the line. So we make sure to get the story right.
“Under our guidelines, anonymous sources should be used only for information that we think is newsworthy and credible, and that we are not able to report any other way,” our standards editor, Phil Corbett, explains in our series Understanding The Times.
“We have to be skeptical,” he adds. “How does the source know this information? Can we corroborate it? What’s the source’s motivation for telling us?”
And the reporter must tell an editor who the source is.
“Use of anonymous sourcing in any story must be approved by a high-ranking editor, usually a department head,” Mr. Corbett writes. “When it’s central to the story, it generally must be approved by an even higher-ranking editor.”
Jennifer Krauss, from Times Insider, helped with today’s Back Story.
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