Nation and World briefs for January 10

Steyer won’t run for president, will focus on impeachment

DES MOINES, Iowa — Billionaire investor and Democratic activist Tom Steyer said Wednesday that he will not run for the White House in 2020 and will instead focus on calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

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Steyer, who has spent $50 million on his Need to Impeach campaign and announced plans to spend $40 million more this year, said at an event in Des Moines that “the impeachment question has reached an inflection point,” given that Democrats have taken majority control of the House.

“I said last year that I’m willing to do whatever I can to protect our country from this reckless, lawless and dangerous president,” Steyer said. “Therefore, I will be dedicating 100 percent of my time, effort and resources working for Mr. Trump’s impeachment and removal from office. I am not running for president at this time.”

Steyer said his $40 million commitment for 2019 was designed to pressure the Democratic-controlled House to begin impeachment hearings and to persuade the party’s presidential contenders to support impeachment on their platform.

The decision not to run comes as a surprise since Steyer had been traveling the country promoting the political platform he released after November’s midterm elections.

UK lawmakers rebuff May as she tries to salvage Brexit deal

LONDON — Britain’s battle over Brexit turned into political trench warfare between Parliament and the government Wednesday, as Prime Minister Theresa May brought her little-loved EU divorce agreement back to lawmakers who appear determined to thwart her plans.

A month after postponing a vote on the deal to avert near-certain defeat, May urged Parliament to support it to prevent Britain leaving the EU on March 29 with no agreement on exit terms and future relations, an outcome that could cause economic and social upheaval.

“The only way to avoid ‘no deal’ is to vote for the deal,” May told lawmakers in the House of Commons on the first of five days of debate ahead of a vote on Tuesday.

May postponed the vote in mid-December when it became clear lawmakers would resoundingly reject the agreement, a compromise deal that has left both pro-European and pro-Brexit politicians unhappy.

Rather than warming to May’s deal since then, lawmakers have tried to wrest control of Brexit from the government and put it in the hands of Parliament.

Trump’s move to send Haitians home goes on trial in New York

NEW YORK — A trial in New York over the Trump administration’s move to cut off permission for thousands of Haitians to live in the U.S. is spotlighting emails between officials downplaying health and safety crises in the Caribbean nation as they tried to justify the change.

The case centers on the Temporary Protected Status program, which has allowed about 50,000 people from Haiti to live and work in the U.S. temporarily since a devastating earthquake in 2010. The emails, filed with documents in the case, bolster the argument by migrant advocates that the Trump administration was so bent on ending TPS that it ignored the U.S. government’s own research showing that Haiti was in no shape to take people back.

“The problem” with that analysis, one Trump appointee to the Department of Homeland Security, Kathy Kovarik, wrote in an October 2017 email, “is that it reads as though we’d recommend an extension (of TPS) because we talk so much about how bad it is.”

“The basic problem is that it IS bad there,” another official responded. “We can … try to get more, and/or comb through the country conditions we have again looking for positive gems, but the conditions are what they are.”

The non-jury trial in federal court in Brooklyn stems from one of seven lawsuits filed by immigrants and advocates over the 2017 moves to end TPS. The program has allowed about 300,000 people from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sudan and other countries to stay in the U.S. for years after their home countries were upended by natural disasters or violence.

Experimental app might spot drug overdoses in time to help

WASHINGTON — Too often people die of an opioid overdose because no one’s around to notice they’re in trouble. Now scientists are creating a smartphone app that beams sound waves to measure breathing — and summon help if it stops.

The app is still experimental. But in a novel test, the “Second Chance” app detected early signs of overdose in the critical minutes after people injected heroin or other illegal drugs, researchers reported Wednesday.

One question is whether most drug users would pull out their phone and switch on an app before shooting up. The University of Washington research team contends it could offer a much-needed tool for people who haven’t yet found addiction treatment.

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“They’re not trying to kill themselves — they’re addicted to these drugs. They have an incentive to be safe,” said Shyamnath Gollakota, an engineering and computer science associate professor whose lab turns regular cellphones into temporary sonar devices.

But an emergency room physician who regularly cares for overdose patients wonders how many people really would try such a device.