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10 things you need to know today: December 6, 2018

Harold Maass
Former President George W. Bush at his father's funeral
Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images
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1.

George W. Bush eulogizes his father as a 'great president'

The nation honored former President George H.W. Bush with a day of mourning and a funeral at Washington National Cathedral that was attended by every living ex-president, and President Trump. Bush's son and fellow ex-president, George W. Bush, eulogized his father as "a great president of the United States, a diplomat of unmatched skill, a commander in chief of formidable accomplishment, and a gentleman who executed the duties of his office with dignity and honor." Trump and first lady Melania Trump were seated next to former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Bush's body was flown back to Houston to lie in repose at St. Martin's Episcopal Church before another service and then burial Thursday. [The Associated Press, The New York Times]

2.

Report: Saudi lobbyists spent $270k at Trump hotel after election

Lobbyists representing the Saudi government paid more than $270,000 for rooms at President Trump's Washington, D.C., hotel in the three months after Trump's election in 2016, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing organizers of the trips and documents obtained by the newspaper. The lobbying firm, Qorvis/MSLGroup, rented the rooms at the Trump-branded hotel for U.S. military veterans flown to Washington, D.C., to lobby against a bill Saudi Arabia wanted defeated. The average nightly rate at the Trump International at the time was $768, but organizers said they got a veterans discount. There are several pending lawsuits arguing that Trump violated the Constitution's foreign emoluments clause by taking improper payments from foreign governments. [The Washington Post]

3.

Canada arrests Huawei exec; China protests

Canada has arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of China's Huawei Technologies, Canadian Justice Department spokesman Ian McLeod said Wednesday. Meng has a bail hearing Friday and faces extradition to the U.S., where the Chinese tech giant is under investigation for possible violations of sanctions against Iran. McLeod said Meng, a deputy chair of Huawei's board and daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday. The U.S. has been looking into Huawei's suspected shipping of products originated in the U.S. to Iran since 2016. On Thursday, China demanded that Canada "immediately correct the mistake" and "immediately release the detained person." [The Associated Press, The Globe and Mail]

4.

Researchers say North Korea expanded long-range missile site

North Korea is expanding a missile base near its mountainous border with China that could be used to launch long-range missiles capable of reaching the U.S., independent researchers said Thursday, citing new commercial satellite imagery. "They are constructing hardened drive-through shelters for the vehicles that would carry the long-range missiles," said Catherine Dill, a senior research associate with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, which conducted the analysis. "And they are also constructing tunnel entrances." The researchers said the work at the Yeongjeo-dong missile base and the expansion of a new suspected missile facility seven miles away marked the latest indications that North Korea is continuing to ramp up its missile program despite President Trump's claims of progress toward getting North Korea to denuclearize. [The New York Times, NPR]

5.

Macron scraps suspended fuel tax in response to protests

French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that his government was scrapping a fuel-tax increase that provoked weeks of nationwide protests that culminated in the worst rioting Paris has seen in decades. The announcement came a day after the government said it would suspend the tax hike for six months. Participants in the "Yellow Vest" demonstrations, named after the high-visibility vests worn by protesters, celebrated the decision to get rid of the tax, which had been planned for next year, but some warned that the concession came too late to soothe rising anger against Macron, whom they view as out of touch with the public's concerns. [The Associated Press]

6.

Michigan, Wisconsin Republicans advance measures to weaken Democratic leaders

The Republican majority in Michigan's legislature voted Wednesday to advance a measure seeking to strip campaign-finance oversight from the Democratic secretary of state-elect. They also are pushing through a proposal to let lawmakers protect GOP-backed laws if they consider the policies to be threatened by the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general. The moves in a lame-duck session followed similar votes in Wisconsin, where GOP lawmakers early Wednesday approved legislation to weaken incoming Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers, who defeated Republican incumbent Gov. Scott Walker in November. Evers said "power-hungry" Republicans were trying to "override the will of the people of Wisconsin who asked for change on November 6th." Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) said Republicans were just trying to ensure a fair balance of power. [The Associated Press, Politico]

7.

Global carbon emissions reach record high

Scientists project global carbon emissions will reach another record high by the end of 2018, spiking 2.7 percent to 37.1 billion tons released this year. That's up from last year's increase of 1.6 percent. The U.S. is the second-highest single-country producer of carbon emissions, coming in at about 6 billion tons in 2018, behind China's 10 billion. America's 2.5 percent increase in emissions output comes amid the Trump administration's resistance to carbon-fighting policies. Global emissions saw a relatively flat period between 2014 and 2016, and American emissions had remained largely stable and even decreased since the early 2000s. These positive findings led scientists to believe efforts to fight emissions might be working, but Wednesday's findings squashed those hopes. [The Washington Post]

8.

Report: Facebook gave favored partners special access to user data

Facebook boosted some partners, including Airbnb, Lyft, and Netflix, by giving them access to user data that it kept from rival companies, according to internal Facebook emails and other documents released Wednesday by a British parliamentary committee. The documents mostly concerned Facebook's actions from 2012 to 2015, a period of explosive growth for the social network. The material showed how intimately involved Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg were in making sure decisions fueled growth and kept users engaged. The release of the internal documents complicates Facebook's challenges as it faces questions about how it has handled misinformation and whether it does enough to protect user data. [The New York Times]

9.

Border Patrol agent indicted for capital murder in Texas

A grand jury in Texas on Wednesday returned a capital murder indictment against U.S. Border Patrol agent Juan David Ortiz, who is suspected in the killings of four women and the kidnapping of a fifth in rural Texas. Ortiz was charged with just one count of capital murder because the four killings allegedly were part of a single plot. "The scheme in this case from Ortiz's own words was to clean up the streets of Laredo by targeting this community of individuals who he perceived to be disposable, that no one would miss, and that he did not give value to," Webb County District Attorney Isidro R. Alaniz said at a news conference. The victims all reportedly had drug problems or were involved with sex work. Ortiz is accused of killing them over two weeks in September. [NBC News]

10.

USA Gymnastics files for bankruptcy due to Nassar scandal

USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, seeking protection from creditors as it faces lawsuits filed by hundreds of women who were sexually abused by former national team doctor Larry Nassar. "Our organization is a financially solid going concern but for the hundred lawsuits that we do have out there," Kathryn Carson, chair of the organization's board, said in a conference call with reporters. "That is the primary reason that we made this filing, to use the Chapter 11 process as a vehicle for resolving those claims." Nassar was sentenced in January to 40 to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of sexual misconduct. More than 150 women and girls told a judge Nassar had sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment. [Reuters, USA Today]