August 13, 2019

Anti-government protesters reoccupied Hong Kong's airport for a second straight day Tuesday, forcing airlines to suspend check-in for departing flights, The Washington Post reports. The escalating dissent came after the sternest warning from Beijing in the 22 years since Britain returned the semi-autonomous financial hub to Chinese control.

"The radical demonstrators in Hong Kong have repeatedly attacked police with extremely dangerous tools in recent days, which constitutes a serious violent crime, and now they are descending into terrorism," said Yang Guang, a spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office in Beijing. It was the first time China had referred to the protests as "terrorism," raising fears it could resort to military force to quiet the demonstrations. A Chinese paramilitary unit reportedly massed near Hong Kong's border. Harold Maass

8:27 a.m.

North Korea appears committed to that year-end deadline.

The country conducted its second successful test this week geared toward strengthening Pyongyang's nuclear deterrent at the Sohae satellite launch site Friday, state media said Saturday. Although North Korea's Academy of Defense Science didn't specify what was tested, the trial may have included technologies to improve intercontinental ballistic missiles, The Associated Press reports. North Korea considers ICBMs as strategic defensive weapons.

The test, in addition to one on Dec. 7, is widely seen as an attempt to pressure the Trump administration to make major concessions in nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang. North Korea set a year-end deadline for the United States to change course from its insistence on unilateral denuclearization before it sets out on a "new path."

Still some experts don't believe North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will reverse course too drastically and create tensions that existed in 2017 by running nuclear and ICBM tests. Instead, they predict he'll try to provoke Trump with military activities that don't pose a direct threat to Washington and by strengthening Pyongyang's alliance with Moscow and Beijing, AP reports. Read more at Reuters and The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

December 13, 2019

President Trump now has three chances to keep his financial records a secret.

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear Trump's appeal of three cases that involve subpoenas for his financial records, giving no explanation for the decision. Oral arguments for the separate cases are likely slated for March, with a decision expected at the end of June.

In three separate cases, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, the House Oversight Committee, and the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees requested Trump's financial records from his banks and other businesses he worked with. Trump's lawyers sued to block those subpoenas, but in each case, courts ruled against them. So they appealed the decisions to the Supreme Court, first getting stays on the rulings to block the records' immediate release to the oversight committee, and then getting the whole case accepted Friday.

Previous judges have noted that past presidents released their tax returns to the public, and Trump's lawyers subsequently argued that the subpoenas are not a legitimate legislative inquiry. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 13, 2019

Hey, I don't know about you, but I'm feeling ... the oppressing crush of mortality.

Taylor Swift celebrated her 30th birthday on Friday, despite being 19, like, yesterday. "WHO'S GONNA TELL HER SHE'S THIRTAY NOW," Swift tweeted, sharing a throwback photo of the sweet little girl who would one day grow up to have complete strangers creepily speculate about her fertility on social media.

Swift didn't note how she plans to celebrate, but seeing as she accepted Billboard's first-ever Woman of the Decade Award last night, she understandably might be sleeping in. Jeva Lange

December 13, 2019

President Trump has at least three Jewish friends. He just asks them all the same questions.

On at least four occasions over the past few months, Trump has pulled out a story where he's purportedly asking a friend which of his administration's moves have been bigger for the Jewish people. The friend always gives the same answer — but Trump changes the name of who he's talking to each time, The Washington Post reports.

"Charlie, let me ask you what’s bigger for the Jewish people," Trump recalled asking Charles Kushner, the disgraced real estate developer and father of Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, at a Hanukkah event on Wednesday. "Giving the embassy to Jerusalem" and recognizing it as Israel's capital or supporting Israel's sovereignty in the disputed Golan Heights. "Neither," Kushner apparently replied. "The biggest thing of all is what you did by ending the Iran nuclear catastrophe."

Yet just a few hours earlier, Trump told nearly the same story, this time involving the even shiftier New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. A few days earlier, it was Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson who Trump asked about Israeli accomplishments. And back in September, it was a nondescript "people" who told him they loved his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Read the full accounts or watch them mashed up side-by-side at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 13, 2019

Next week's Democratic debate could lose its frontrunners.

Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles is currently facing a union boycott against its food service provider Sodexo — the two sides have been in talks for a deal since March. And with the Dec. 19 debate scheduled to take place at Loyola Marymount, four candidates, including three at the top of the polls, say they won't be there.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was the first candidate to recognize the conflict at Loyola Marymount, tweeting Friday that he would not cross the Unite Here Local 11 picket line organized against Sodexo.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) soon tweeted that she also wouldn't cross the union's picket line "even if it means missing the debate." Andrew Yang, the underdog tech entrepreneur who was the last candidate to make the stage, said the same, and then former Vice President Joe Biden joined in. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, who didn't make this Democratic debate, then called on the remaining candidates to drop as well.

The Democratic National Committee has already faced a union challenge to this debate, deciding in early November to pull it from UCLA over the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees' three-year boycott on speakers at the school. It announced it was moving to Loyola Marymount a few days later. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 13, 2019

President Trump will have impeachment just the way he wants it.

In an Oval Office meeting with the president of Paraguay on Friday, Trump didn't have much to say about the South American country. Instead, he made it clear to reporters what he'd like out of his impeachment trial in the Senate, saying "I'll do whatever I want" when asked for his impeachment preferences.

After reporting suggested Trump was pushing for a long, "TV spectacle" of an impeachment trial and Senate Republicans just wanted to get it over with, Trump was asked Friday flat-out what he'd prefer. Trump replied by saying he'd heard Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) suggest a quick trial without any witnesses, "and I like that." In short, "I'll do whatever I want," Trump said.

Trump then repeated his claim that "we did nothing wrong, so I'll do long or short." And then he revealed he did have a preference, saying "I wouldn't mind a long process, because I'd like to see the whistleblower," whose identity is protected by law. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 13, 2019

Christmas came early this year! While fans of the Kardashian West clan had to wait until Christmas Eve in 2018 to see the family's holiday card (the nerve!), Kim and Kanye shared their annual photo on social media Friday afternoon. Unlike the crazy photo shoots of yore, the family opted this year for a more dressed-down look: Mom, dad, and all four kids — including adorable 7-month-old Psalm, making his Christmas card debut — wore comfy-looking sweats.

"I think this Christmas card will be just ... me, Kanye, and the kids, because it's a lot to wrangle everybody," Kardashian-West had told E! News last month, adding that she planned something "really chill and cozy." Nailed it. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads