Start your Monday smart: Weinstein, asylum rule, Fed rates, Putin, shutdown, winter

Posted at 3:16 PM, Dec 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-16 17:16:08-05

Here’s what you need to know to Start Your Week Smart.

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• It’s the start of Las Posadas, the nine-day festival celebrated by Christians in Mexico and parts of the United States. Translated as “The Inns,” it commemorates Mary and Joseph’s biblical journey to Bethlehem, where Mary gave birth to Jesus.

• Amid some controversy spawned by Miss USA, the Miss Universe pageant airs live from Bangkok, Thailand, at 7 ET on Fox.

• If you couldn’t get to the Boss’ Manhattan theater run, “Springsteen on Broadway” gives you the best seat in the house. It premieres on Netflix.


• Ex-FBI chief James Comey heads back to Capitol Hill for a second closed-door interview before two House committees. After his last visit, President Donald Trump accused Comey, without evidence, of lying to lawmakers, while Comey said he was exasperated over being grilled about Hillary Clinton’s emails.

• It’s Wright Brothers Day, marking the first successful flights in a heavier-than-air, mechanically propelled plane, by Orville and Wilbur Wright, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.


• The next shoe in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation could drop when ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn is set to be sentenced. Mueller says Flynn, the highest-ranking Trump administration official to face charges, shouldn’t go to prison for lying about contacts with the ex-Russian ambassador to the US because Flynn helped prosecutors with at least three ongoing investigations.

College football bowl mania continues all week, with end-of-season matchups from Boca Raton, Florida, to Honolulu, including perhaps the tastiest of all the head-to-heads, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.


• An order banning the Trump administration from denying asylum to people crossing the southern border between ports of entry expires, and a hearing is set in San Francisco to review it. A federal judge last month accused Trump of trying to rewrite immigration laws without Congress’ approval, while the administration called the ruling “absurd.”

• The Federal Reserve is expected to announce another interest rate hike, though the central bank has signaled it would be flexible on plans to raise rates in 2019.

• The happiest nanny ever to arrive via umbrella finally lands again in US theaters. “Mary Poppins Returns,” the sequel to the 1964 Disney classic, starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, is rated PG.


Judicial drama returns when disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is due in New York state court to face five felony sex-crime charges. It’s reportedly his last chance to argue they should be dropped; he has pleaded not guilty. Weinstein’s epic fall fueled the #MeToo movement, empowering women to share their experiences with sexual harassment — and worse — at the hands of powerful men. Some legal experts, though, say the case against Weinstein may be unraveling.

• Pop some popcorn and settle in. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual marathon news conference is set to unfold. During last year’s, which ran for four hours, Putin dismissed allegations Russia colluded with Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. In light of recent revelations, including a US plea deal with an alleged Russia spy, we’ll wait to hear whether Putin amends that answer.


• With both sides dug in on the budget fight over Trump’s promised border wall, a partial government shutdown may be in store. If it happens, more than 420,000 government workers, including Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection agents, are expected to work without pay. Another 380,000 federal employees, including at NASA and the National Park Service, would be furloughed.

• If the shutdown talk’s got you down, know that it literally gets brighter from here. It’s the winter solstice, when the sun appears at its most southerly position. It’s also the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, where this day marks the start of winter.

• It’s been 50 years since the Apollo 8 launch. As millions around the globe watched and listened, Americans Col. Frank Borman, Capt. Jim Lovell Jr. and Maj. Bill Anders became the first humans to orbit the moon.

• It’s a race to stop a war between the surface-dwellers and those who live beneath the waves as the latest comic-book hero comes to life in “Aquaman.” The flick is PG-13.


• Some NCAA Tournament faves are among eight teams vying to earn their leis and pineapples in the 10th Diamond Head Classic. Three days of hoops begins on Oahu, Hawaii.