AP News in Brief 01-03-19

  • Images with separate color and detail information, and a composited image of both, showing Ultima Thule, about 1 billion miles beyond Pluto. (NASA/via AP)

No deal to end shutdown; Trump says ‘could be a long time’

WASHINGTON — No one budged at President Donald Trump’s closed-door meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday, so the partial government shutdown persisted through Day 12 over his demand for billions of dollars to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. They’ll all try again Friday.

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In public, Trump renewed his dire warnings of rapists and others at the border. But when pressed in private by Democrats asking why he wouldn’t end the shutdown, he responded at one point, “I would look foolish if I did that.” A White House official, one of two people who described that exchange only on condition of anonymity, said the president had been trying to explain that it would be foolish not to pay for border security.

In one big shift, the new Congress will convene Thursday with Democrats taking majority control of the House, and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said they’d quickly pass legislation to re-open the government — without funds for the border wall.

“Nothing for the wall,” Pelosi said in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show set to air today. “We can go through the back and forth. No. How many more times can we say no?”

But the White House has rejected the Democratic package, and Republicans who control the Senate are hesitant to take it up without Trump on board. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it a “total nonstarter.” Trump said ahead of his White House session with the congressional leaders that the partial shutdown will last “as long as it takes” to get the funding he wants.

The stock market starts off 2019 with more turbulence

NEW YORK — The roller-coaster ride on Wall Street resumed on Wednesday, the first trading day of the new year, as stocks plunged early on, then slowly recovered and finished with a slight gain.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped as much as 398 points in the first few minutes of trading after more shaky economic news from China. But it gradually recouped those losses, and a small rally over the last 15 minutes of trading left major indexes a bit higher than where they started.

A Chinese government survey and one by a major business magazine showed manufacturing in China weakened in December as global and domestic demand cooled. That weighed on big exporters, with tech companies like Microsoft and industrials like Boeing taking sharp losses early on, only to bounce back.

That kind of whiplash was typical during the last three months of 2018, and many strategists think it is likely to continue.

After trading ended, Apple gave a quarterly sales forecast that was far worse than analysts expected. It said its revenue will be lower than previously believed because of China’s slowing economy. In aftermarket trading, Apple fell 7 percent. Other tech companies, especially chipmakers, sank as well.

GOP rivalry? Romney hits Washington, blasts Trump

WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee and incoming Utah senator, has quickly set himself apart from other Republicans in the new Congress with a blistering attack on President Donald Trump’s leadership and character.

Romney put to rest expectations that he would take his time getting his footing in Washington. Instead, in a Washington Post column published two days before Romney was sworn into office, he said Trump’s “conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions last month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.”

Trump, in a Twitter response, said he hoped Romney wouldn’t follow in the footsteps of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who often criticized Trump and paid the price, opting to retire rather than risk defeat in a GOP primary in 2018.

“Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful,” Trump tweeted. “I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player &WIN!”

NASA: Icy object past Pluto looks like reddish snowman

LAUREL, Md. — A NASA spacecraft 4 billion miles from Earth yielded its first close-up pictures Wednesday of the most distant celestial object ever explored, depicting what looks like a reddish snowman.

Ultima Thule, as the small, icy object has been dubbed, was found to consist of two fused-together spheres, one of them three times bigger than the other, extending about 21 miles in length.

NASA’s New Horizons, the spacecraft that sent back pictures of Pluto 3½ years ago, swept past the ancient, mysterious object early on New Year’s Day. It is 1 billion miles beyond Pluto.

On Tuesday, based on early, fuzzy images taken the day before, scientists said Ultima Thule resembled a bowling pin. But when better, closer pictures arrived, a new consensus emerged Wednesday.

“The bowling pin is gone. It’s a snowman!” lead scientist Alan Stern informed the world from Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, home to Mission Control in Laurel. The bowling pin image is “so 2018,” joked Stern.

From wire sources

, who is with the Southwest Research Institute.

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Apple drops iPhone bombshell on already reeling stock market

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple acknowledged that demand for iPhones is waning, confirming investor fears that the company’s most profitable product has lost some of its luster.

The reckoning came in a letter from Apple CEO Tim Cook to the company’s shareholders released after the stock market closed Wednesday.

Cook said Apple’s revenue for the October-December quarter — including the crucial holiday shopping season — will fall well below the company’s earlier projections and those of analysts, whose estimates sway the stock market.

Apple now expects revenue of $84 billion for the period. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected Apple’s revenue to be about 9 percent higher — $91.3 billion. The official results are scheduled to be released Jan. 29.

Cook traced most of the revenue drop to China, where the economy has been slowing and Apple has faced tougher competition from home-team smartphone makers such as Huawei and Xiaomi. President Donald Trump has also raised new tensions between the U.S. and China by imposing tariffs on more than $200 billion in goods, although so far the iPhone hasn’t been affected directly.

US Catholic bishops to pray over clergy sexual abuse scandal

MUNDELEIN, Ill. — U.S.-based Roman Catholic bishops gathered Wednesday for a weeklong retreat near Chicago on the church sexual abuse scandal that organizers say will focus on prayer and spiritual reflection and not formulating policy.

The retreat began a day after The Associated Press reported that the Vatican blocked U.S. bishops from taking measures last year to address the scandal because U.S. church leaders didn’t discuss the legally problematic proposals with the Holy See enough beforehand.

The rebuke from Rome was contained in a letter from a Vatican official before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops met in November. The move stunned abuse survivors and some other Catholics demanding actions.

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The retreat also is a prelude to a summit of the world’s bishops at the Vatican next month to forge a comprehensive response to the crisis that has lashed the church.

The meetings follow two blistering reports during 2018 from state attorneys general — in Illinois and Pennsylvania — alleging negligence by state church leaders.